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Revised agenda puts spotlight on Orrington project

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A project to spend $117,000 on the playground at Orrington School has been taken off the consent agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board.

For a school district with an annual budget in excess of $100 million, projects involving a few thousand dollars are routinely approved by the board’s Finance Committee and lumped in with several other routine items for quick approval by the full board.

But a proposal to spend $117,500 to provide access by delivery trucks to Orrington Elementary School instead of requiring them to use the playground while students are present has become a somewhat controversial issue leading to discussion by the full board.

It followed a one-hour discussion of the issue at last Monday night’s Finance Committee when the committee’s chairman, Andy Pigozzi, questioned whether the work was high enough on the priority list to do it now.

If the district never says “no” to a request for funds, no matter how small, Pigozzi reasoned, “it will hurt us in the long run. At some point you have to draw a line.”

Others argued that it’s a matter of safety for the kids on the playground.

Member Richard Rykhus said that while he was inclined to oppose the expenditure, he thought it merited discussion by the full board, and the rest of the committee agreed.

When the agenda first came out Friday for tonight’s meeting, the issue was on the consent agenda, which meant quick approval with no discussion.

But now it has been taken off the consent agenda so that the board can discuss it before voting.

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 stations and business-oriented magazines.

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