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Both Evanston school boards will be meeting tonight, and although it’s not on the agenda of either District 65 or District 202, one can be certain that economic policies of the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump will be a top-of-mind issue as the boards modify their financial projections.

For one thing, the dreaded property tax caps could rise if the prognostications of higher living costs accompany promises of bringing more manufacturing jobs back to this country, where labor costs are significantly higher than in Asian countries that make many of the clothing and other consumer goods we buy today.

The property tax caps are restricted to cost-of-living increases that have little relevance to the actual costs of operating a school district, due to its high percentage of salary costs. Even though that may be bad news for taxpayers, it is good news for the districts, where the major revenue source is the property tax.

Another consideration is borrowing costs, which could soar as the administration’s promise to spend vast sums on infrastructure projects increases the demand for borrowed funds.

If the boards act quickly enough, there may still be time to pass referenda that would enable them to seek funds while interest rates are historically low, although that is not a guarantee.

Evanston Township High School District 202 will be discussing capital improvement needs tonight at its meeting that could shed more light on its borrowing intentions.

It is considering a five-year plan that identifies $27 million in needs, but only $21 million in identified sources of funds. For the current year, the requested capital improvement budget is $3,667,125.

Meanwhile, over at Evanston/Skokie School District 65, the board will be looking at projected increases in enrollment, which has risen 11 percent between the 2011-12 school year and the present year.

The good news is that the growth in enrollment for the next five years is expected to be only 224 students, or 3.3 percent.

The administration has repeatedly warned, however, that significant overall budget deficits are projected for the next five years that may require either sizable revenue increases or significant cuts in programs, or both.

Meanwhile, the district is still negotiating a four-year employment contract with the District Educators’ Council, the bargaining unit for the district’s teachers, and board members will have to walk through a predictably noisy group of teachers tonight that will be rallying for a contract settlement to preclude a strike.

The public portion of the District 65 board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, located at 1500 McDaniel Ave., while the District 202 board will begin its public discussions at 7:30 p.m. in Room N112 at ETHS, 1600 Dodge Ave.

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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9 Comments

  1. A black cloud in every silver lining

    I find the article amusing. 

    There have been cries for more infra-structure spending. Here that is seen as a negative.

    People say they want more jobs to stay here esp. mamufacturing. Here that is seen as a negative.

    Here griowth and higher tax caps are almost seen as negative.

    Here lower enrollment in schools is considered a good thing.

    Whether Trump  can do/cause these things is unknown. However it reminds me no one is ever happy.

    Years ago when inflation was very high and the economy was dead, all the news bemoared it.  When inflation lowered all the news bemoaned how lower bond yields would hurt those on fixed income and Social Security. The press/TV always can find a cloud. However the election predictions show how bad they were at that and probably will be about the doom and gloom they predict now.

    1. I must have read a different article

      The one I read described public servants doing their jobs by meeting to discuss changes that may be needed under President elect Trump's policies. Not everything is a conspiracy by the "press."

    2. Savings on bilingual programming

      On the bright side, ETHS should save around $300,000 per year on bilingual education. Twelve percent of District 65 students are classified as English language learners (meaning that their parents did not teach them English at home). Presumably, many of those students will not be enrolled in 2018. Two-way immersion classrooms could be reduced, saving on costs, as these classrooms have two teachers instead of one.

      1. Basis for presumptions?

        You state that, for the 12 percent of District 65 students who are categorized as English-language learners, "their parents did not teach them English at home."  Upon what facts do you base the presumption that their parents had the ability to teach their children English? 

        For example, would parents fleeing a war zone with their young children have the opportunity to teach their children a language that they themselves perhaps did not speak?  Or could parents who are conversational in English (let's assume that the parents and children are citizens or legal residents so as not to confuse the issue) be able to teach their children how to speak English fluently so that they could succeed academically in District 65 and beyond?

        You also state "[p]resumably, many of those students will not be enrolled in 2018."  Of course, virtually all of the current 7th and 8th graders will graduate from District 65 in 2018 and before.  But even taking graduations and voluntary relocations out of Evanston, how can you presume that "many" English-language learners at District 65 schools "will not be enrolled in 2018"? 

        Is your presumption that many of these D65 students (ages 14 and under) will be deported?  Do you know whether any of these youngsters are citizens or legal residents?  Or are you presuming that these young children who happen to be English-language learners will need to flee Evanston in the coming two years?

        Here is my opinion:  there is no "bright side" to a projected cost saving based on a presumption that young children will be deported or will need to flee our city in the near future.  So I am hopeful that you can clarify your presumptions.

        And here is a fact:  there are many, many classrooms with English-language learners in D65 where there is only one teacher per classroom.  It's called the two-way immersion program, often called TWI.  Check it out on the D65 website.

        1. Claification

          I'll start by posting sources for the information.

          12% of D65 students are English Language Learners
          http://www.district65.net/cms/lib8/IL01906289/Centricity/Domain/75/District%2065%20AtaGlance%202015.pdf

           

          Bilingual/ESL Support (Grades 6-8) When EL students are in middle school, they are supported through a co-teaching model in which there are two teachers (one content teacher and one bilingual co-teacher) in the classroom.
          http://www.district65.net/Page/527

           

          English as a second language (ESL) (Grades K-5) The program provides instruction in the English language using Sheltered English Instruction. Students who receive this support are in the general education classroom the majority of the day and receive support from an ESL teacher either in the classroom or in small ESL groups as necessary.
          http://www.district65.net/Page/527

          Two-Way Immersion (TWI) (Grades K-5) TWI classrooms are approximately half Spanish speaking students and half English speaking students. Students have a specially trained bilingual teacher.
          http://www.district65.net/cms/lib8/IL01906289/Centricity/Domain/61/TWI%20flyer%20English.pdf

          One and a half literacy coaches and one bilingual coach were hired in FY17 to provide additional support to teachers – $225,000.
          The District is committed to providing English Learners with high-quality instruction; an additional ESL teacher was hired during FY16 and two additional teachers were hired in FY17 due to increased student enrollment – $190,000.
          EVANSTON SKOKIE COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED SD 65 – FY17 EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION – 1800 – BILINGUAL:

          • $1,824,016.00 (2015-16 Budget)
          • $2,032,685.12 (2015-16 Actual)
          • $2,198,150.14 (2016-16 Budget)

          http://www.district65.net/cms/lib8/IL01906289/Centricity/Domain/91/FY17%20Final%20Budget.pdf

           

          In 2015, English learners met college readiness benchmarks in MAP testing 7.6 percent of the time for mathematics, and 5.3 percent of the time for reading. The numbers across the entire student population were 39.1 and 49.8, respectively.
          http://www.district65.net/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=198&dataid=2659&FileName=D65%20Achievement%20and%20Accountability%20Report_2016%20.pdf

           

          Students enrolled by the Fall of 2013 spoke 77 different native languages. Among English learners, there were 54 different native languages. Among all students, English was the most commonly spoken native language, with 74.7 percent of students listed as native English speakers. Coming in second was Spanish, with 15 percent of students listed as native Spanish speakers. 130 bilingual English learners waived bilingual education services.
          https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=34527000

           

          Now that that’s out of the way:

          I made no assertions regarding the reason for the failure of parents to teach their children English, and would guess that at least some students’ failure to speak English is due to the inability of parents to teach the children English.

           Whether students illegally residing in the United States are no longer enrolled in the 2018 school year because of forcible deportation, or because of “fleeing” before they are forcibly deported is of little consequence in this discussion, as the end result for the school districts will be the same, aside from mid-year transfers.

          As for your opinion, I respect that you have that opinion, and am not making any assertions regarding the moral or ethical value of the projected cost savings. However, the projected cost saving can be backed up with data provided by the school district. Theoretically, the district saves money if students unable to speak English cease to enroll.

          Please link the exact page where it says that there exist many TWI classrooms with only a single teacher, and provide a quote. I looked for such information, but was ultimately unable to find it.

          1. Data slam misses the point

            Having had children in the TWI program, I observed that none of the K-5 TWI classrooms in my students' elementary school had more than one teacher.  If you need to confirm that, please contact D65 for detailed information on staffing of individual classrooms in the elementary schools as I could not find a notation on the D65 website that general education classrooms only have one teacher either.   

            Your data dump and recitation of how you calculated the cost savings missed the point. To report a cost savings based on the assumed mass exodus of young children from our community is truly troubling. These young children may not be fluent in English yet but they are human beings and we should not be tallying the savings that result after they are deported or must flee the hatred-inspired violence that we have seen recently. 

            And you did not answer this question: why do you assume that all or virtually all D65 children who are not fluent in English are not here legally?  I am familiar with plenty of Evanston children under age 14 who are citizens or legal residents but they are also not quite fluent in English yet. So your assumption that all of these children will magically disappear from our community and bilingual education will no longer be needed in D65 is woefully flawed in addition to being troubling. 

          2. If you look at my sources, it
            If you look at my sources, it is stated explicitly that TWI classrooms have two teachers.
            I never said that children would have to flee “hatred-inspired violence;” the assumption is that we would simply enforce the laws on the books. Nobody is harmed by tallying the cost savings that could exist if students illegally residing in the country, or whose parents are illegally residing in the country, ceased to be enrolled in our public schools. Surely, pupils whose parents or guardians never taught them English cost more to educate than those who are taught English at home.
            My estimates were conservative, based on the overall costs of educating ELL students, and the costs would be reduced even if only half of ELL pupils were no longer enrolled. As for the assumption that many of these students are not here legally, or are the children of people here illegally, consider that most legal adult residents are fluent in English. Unfortunately, little data exists on the immigration status of individuals who are English language learners or who have limited English proficiency and their offspring, so some degree of assumption is necessary. Certainly, not all ELL students are here illegally; their parents could be here for work, they could be the children of legal immigrants, or they could be refugees.

          3. Relevant to referendum request

            Thank you for compiling and sharing that data. I think this has renewed relevance in light of the discussion about the District 65 referendum.

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