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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.

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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3 Comments

  1. William Geiger has his head

    William Geiger has his head screwed on right. The boards should adopt a plan to deal with cutbacks in state provided funds. Both 202 and 65 may need to scale "nice to have" classes and staff or ask unions to approve a wage roll back to eliminate lay-offs.

    Education has been one of the top 5 areas were costs have continued rise. It may be time to scale down in that area. Most of the rest of the country has had to scale back for the last 6 years.

    Schools have been told that they may get less from the state but, lately, Quinn has been dishing out millions in an effort to gain votes in November. Locally, we have the head of the state's IDNR "we have millions to spend on buying and fixing the mansion". Would it be better, in both cases, if all those dollars were directed toward schools or fixing the pension problems.

    Tell me, would it be better to keep the promise the state made 4 years ago and begin to roll back the tax increase or make the increase permanent.The tax rollback has a good chance of stimulating the Illinois economy and create jobs. Keeping the tax at 5% will more than keep the state in the same condition, companies and jobs leaving the state.

     

  2. Evanston schools would lose money under Democrat plan

    First, Democrats in the Illinois House and Senate have a supermajority and right now are meeting in secret without any Republicans to discuss a proposed overhaul of Illinois' dated school funding formula, which, if approved, would direct more state money to poorer rural districts at the expense of wealthier suburban districts.

    This bill, that Democrat Daniel Biss voted for, would take away a lot of state funding to D65 and D202. That is the doomsday scenario that Democrats are SECRETLY discussing right now!!!! If this happens, our taxes would most certainly increase, AGAIN!!!

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140905/NEWS02/140909894/madigan-quietly-gathers-illinois-lawmakers-to-discuss-school-funding#

    Second, Bruce Rauner said he would  only eliminate the 67 percent tax hike that the Democrats passed in 2011 over a four year period. To make up for that loss revenue over time, Rauner  proposes to broaden the sales tax base by shifting more of the burden from goods to services.  The idea of reducing the tax income back to where it was before Democrats increased it would make Illinois more competitive with neighboring states.

    Rauner's description of Illinois as "a tax-happy, fee-happy state" with a resultant economic environment "unfriendly to families, job creators and small businesses is right on and something has to be done about it.

     

  3. No surprise they want more money

    When has any government body [or person] said they 'have enough.'  They always want more and say "if we only had more tax dollars, we could fix all our problems" or in this case keep the TEMPORARY tax rate. 

    If the schools were excelling, maybe, but they are not.  I suspect the students who are doing well are doing so because they want to work hard; the parents support them, tutor them or get them tutors, get them involved in other events; enroll in advanced classes even at NU or Oakton; a few teachers who inspire them and get them though the boredom of bad or poor teachers and inadequate courses.

    The schools need to get their act together first, do 'zero based budgeting', cut administration and non-educational staff and activities, and focus on education first.

    If the state does revamp educational funding, guess where it is likely to go.  Not Evanston, nor Winnetka but Harvey, Robbins and even smaller communities that are economically sound but have schools that can't offer all the programs that Evanston and Winnetka do even though the teachers are good.  Funds will go FROM Evanston not TO Evanston. 

     

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