Regardless of the state’s impasse on school funding legislation, the Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools will open on time on August 28, according to a statement issued today by Superintendent Paul Goren.

Nevertheless, “it remains critical that both parties reach an agreement as soon as possible,” Goren said, “as state funding is an important component of our budget.”

What particularly concerns local school officials, however, are two provisions that remain in the bill since Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto that awaits a response from the state’s lawmakers.

One would impose a two-year property tax freeze and the other would shift pension liabilities to local school districts.

“If ultimately included,” Goren warned, “both provisions would have a devastating impact on our schools.”

Goren said he feels strongly “that both should be considered apart from school funding formula legislation.”

The legislation in question, S.B. 1, would change the formula the state uses for funding local school districts. It provides more funds for low-income areas that do not have the taxing ability of more prosperous areas, such as Evanston and the North Shore.

Yet it would not decrease the amount that is currently funded by the state.

Gov. Rauner vetoed provisions in the legislation that would provide the Chicago school district hundreds of millions of dollars additional funding, calling it a “bailout” for Chicago.

Following is the full text of Goren’s statement:

“Our hope is that legislators on both sides of the aisle can work together quickly to reach a final agreement – one that puts politics aside and keeps the best interest of our students and students throughout Illinois at the forefront. We are supportive of a funding formula that does not take money away from our district and provides necessary funding for schools across the state.

“As for the funding bill itself, we are cautiously optimistic about its proposed evidence-based formula. Previous versions would have diverted much needed resources from D65 schools and the students who need it most. The funding bill, recently vetoed by the governor, contains a “hold harmless” provision that would maintain and build upon District 65’s current funding levels.

“We remain very concerned about two provisions listed within the funding bill – a two-year property tax freeze and a pension shift to local school districts. If ultimately included, both provisions would have a devastating impact on our schools. If there is legislative interest to deal with either of these topics, we feel strongly that both should be considered apart from school funding formula legislation.

“District 65 schools will open as scheduled on Monday, August 28, and we look forward to welcoming our students and staff back for the first day. Yet, it remains critical that both parties reach an agreement as soon as possible. Like other districts, state funding is an important component of our budget. Without the passage of a new school funding formula, the consequences will have a significant impact on our fund balance and the referendum resources we have reserved to balance our budget in future years. We will continue to monitor this situation.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. May I repeat myself, please !

    The only fair way to fund Illinois schools is to make it illegal to fund them through property taxes.  Your property taxes will then go down by 67%.  However, your state income taxes will have to go up.  The number of children that need to be educated is your denominator, and the amount the State Legilator wants to spend is your numerator.  Each child then receives the same amount of funding REGARDLESS OF ZIP CODE.

    1. Not a good idea

      The cost of living varies significantly throughout the state of Illinois.

      Equalizing funding without adjusting for the cost of living is NOT a good idea.

      A poorly designed educational funding bill may have a secondary implication of driving more parents to seek a private education for their kids.

      It’s easy to say that money or the lack of money is the problem, but it’s not that simple.

      Educational issues are very complex and multidimensional.

      No easy answers, don’t kid yourself.

    2. Make schools ‘open’ not just ‘open schools’

      Have the money go with the child. If an ETHS student wants to go to New Trier—fine, the money goes with him.

      If a Chicago student wants to go to an Evanston school, that should be fine also.

      If a private or charter school is better—let the dollars go with the student.

      1. The freedom to choose

        I like your idea!  We can choose our doctor, we can choose our car, our grocery/shoping stores, our final place of resting…but we can’t choose our child’s school (unless we have the money), which is the most important choice in life we should have to make.

        1. Riiight.  Because allowing

          Riiight.  Because allowing students from Englewood will only make North Shore schools better and provide everyone with a richer education.  Get real

        2. Unless we have the money

          Exactly! That is why everyone goes to the Mayo Clinic, drives a Maserati, shops at Whole Foods, and gets buried at Calvary Cemetary under a tree overlooking Lake Michigan. In reality differences in quality of everything in our society comes down to whether you can afford and are willing to work for it, rather than have the government mandate that it be evenly divided.

      2. A socialist’s utopia!

        A socialist’s utopia!  Everyone gets the best resources, but doesn’t have to pay market value for it!

        And, I’m sure in your plan there would be reciprocity:  Evanston and Wilmette kids would chose to go to Garfield Park or Englewood schools, right?

      3. There already are Chicago

        There already are Chicago students attending D65 schools….and Winnetka schools.  The lack of oversight and accountability with respect to residency is astounding.  You want to attend schools in a different district?  Fine.  Move here and pay our taxes.  Otherwise stay put. 

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