The boards of Evanston’s two school districts unanimously voted tonight to oppose passage of a state Senate bill that would drastically reduce the amount of state aid coming to the districts.

The action was taken at a combined meeting of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202.

The joint resolution passed by the boards came as no surprise, as members of both boards and their executive staffs have been outspoken in their opposition to the legislation that has already passed the Senate and is likely to be considered by the House after Tuesday’s elections.

The financial staffs of the two districts have calculated the loss of state funds to amount to $6.5 million per year for District 65 and $2.2 million for District 202.

Unless other revenue sources, such as local property taxes, can be tapped to make up the difference, the two boards “would have little choice but to reduce programs and services to our students,” according to the resolution.

While the boards acknowledged that the proposed legislation attacks a real problem in school funding, and would benefit districts where housing prices are low, “it reflects more concern with ‘poor’ districts than with low income children,” the resolution states.

It continues: “More specifically, SB16 would eliminate the supplemental low-income grant for districts, like Districts 65 and 202, with high concentrations of poverty, and the proposed funding formula fails to take into account the depth of poverty in particular districts.”

At the outset of the resolution, the boards reminded state legislators that they have a mandate under the state constitution to provide a free public education and that the state has the primary responsibility for financing that system.

They point out, however, that Illinois ranks 50th out of 50 states in state dollars directed to education and that this funding has declined by more than 10 percent over the last 14 years.

Moreover, they contend, state payments to schools have been late or skipped entirely in recent years and that “state mandates have increased in number and cost to districts and now total at least 140.”

Rather than penalize districts that take on that state obligation, the resolution says, the remedy should be “for the state to acknowledge its own obligation and properly fund education across the state.”

Top: District 65 President Tracy Quattrocki and District 202 President Gretchen Livingston.

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. Let the money go with the student
    If the state determined money per student goes with the student to the school they select, then we will find which schools and in which cities actually provide the best education. If Chicago students decide they want to come to Evanston or Skokie, those schools and communities win. If Evanston students want to go to Skokie or Wilmette or New Trier, they will get the education they feel is better.
    We then will not have to argue about budgets and funding—the students [and parents] will decide with their feet.

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