The Evanston Township High School District 202 board was warned at its meeting this week that if the state fails to renew its expiring income tax increase and simultaneously freezes property taxes, the results would be disastrous for both of Evanston’s two public school districts.
Both proposals are a key part of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s announced plan to salvage the state’s financial situation caused primarily by its failure to set aside sufficient reserves to fund state pensions.
At a public hearing Monday on District 202’s budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the district’s chief financial officer, William Stafford, said the impact of the two measures could mean an immediate $2 million dollar hit to the high school budget and about $6 million annually to the budget of Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools.
The so-called “doomsday scenario” led board member William Geiger to recommend that the board adopt a process for dealing with such a scenario if it becomes necessary.
Meanwhile, school funding in Illinois is the subject of a forum sponsored by State Sen. Daniel Biss that is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the District 65 headquarters, 1500 McDaniel Ave.
The forum will feature a panel that includes District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren and State Sen. Andy Manar, the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 16 that was passed by the Senate but has not yet been considered by the House.
Biss, who voted in favor of the bill that would revamp the state’s education funding formula, notes that “schools are sorely underfunded in much of Illinois, leading to a real and searing injustice.”
Nevertheless, he adds that “the state is still experiencing significant fiscal challenges and successful reform must be sensitive to the challenges facing all school districts.”
“SB 16 is a major revenue concern,” Stafford told the District 202 board, “as that would not only take all of our general state aid, but a lion’s share of our categorical aid,” which funds specific programs.