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School boards prod administrators on staff collaborations

After meeting for more than three hours about ways the two districts can collaborate on various issues, the joint meeting Monday night between the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202 finally touched on the issue of staff reductions as a way to save money.

The issue surfaced after the chief financial officers of the two districts finished their report on ways the districts have reduced expenditures largely through consolidating purchases of goods and services, such as computer hardware and software.

Jonathan Baum, of the District 202 Board of Education, suggested that there might be instances whereby two persons were performing a certain function for each of the two districts, when perhaps a three-person staff could perform the same function for both districts, thereby cutting one position without materially affecting output.

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District 65 Board President Candance Chow echoed his sentiments, saying that a number of her constituents have been demonstrating “interest, pressure, and pushback” as she has attended public information sessions in connection with an operating referendum for the district that is on the ballot for the April school board and municipal election.

She noted, however, that in the last 10 years, the number of students per administrator has increased from 114 to 175, demonstrating  increased efficiencies outside of the classrooms.

The two CFOs agreed to put staff collaborations higher on their agenda as they pursue their exploration of additional ways to cut costs for the benefit of the district’s taxpayers.

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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