Population growth is influenced by many factors including quality of life, quality of schools, employment opportunities, housing supply, affordability and broader demographic changes in our region, including our State finances.
While I do not believe there is one perfect target number, I do believe we need to be more cognizant of how integral and intertwined economic development policies are to the funding of our growing school-age population.
School District 65 has enrolled 1,420 new students in its schools in the last decade and, as most voters know, there is a property tax increase referendum on the ballot to address District 65 funding.
If we want to be able to continue meeting the needs of Evanston families and kids, we need to think of ways to expand our tax base so the burden does not fall as much on residents and homeowners.
When we evaluate economic development projects as a city, we need to consider the potential positive impact of a project on both employment and additional tax revenue that can be used to support our schools, as well as the direct and indirect cost to the City.
I feel people have too often viewed city government and the School District as separate entities operating perpetually in silos. I take the opposite and proactive approach; sound economic development can help improve Evanston schools but must be done in a way that is cognizant of the direct and indirect costs to the City.