Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Parent group gives financial advice for D65 budget

In the hopes of heading off major cuts in District 65 programming, a coalition of 32 parents and community members has sprung up to help the district spend its money more effectively without cutting programs.

“Evanston has been cutting edge in schooling,” said Emily Coxhead, mother of three students in the district and founder of the new coalition. “Shouldn’t we approach financing with the same originality?”

Coxhead founded the committee last month in response to financial problems that have prompted the school board to consider cuts to many educational programs, including arts, drama, music and library staff. D65 has a budget deficit of $3.5 million.

Committee members, nearly all of whom have professional backgrounds in finance or public service, hope to use their experience to find creative ways to use money more effectively and raise money without raising taxes.

Members of the committee with backgrounds in purchasing efficiency, for example, hope to review the district’s spending on supplies in order to cut costs, said Bill Kinsella, father of two daughters in the district and chairman of the purchasing efficiency sub-committee of the coalition.

Conservative estimates suggest the district could save $500,000 annually by allowing the committee to do an in-depth review of the budget, Kinsella said.

Other ideas include funding school programs through local educational foundations or starting an endowment for D65, Coxhead said. Many committee members have backgrounds in grant writing and finding money for non-profit organizations.

“We’re looking into things the board and administration haven’t had time to research,” she said. “It’s not a lack of willingness, just the lack of resources and time.”

Although the committee was founded in response to this year’s budgetary process, most of the ideas it is considering are long-term projects, Coxhead said.

D65 school board members said they would be receptive to adopting the committee’s ideas.

“Certainly if they have good ideas that are credible, let’s make sure that we should utilize their expertise,” school board member Betsy Sagan said. “But would I advocate having a parent group do all our financial planning for us? No.”

The committee should work closely with the district to effect change, school board member Mary Rita Luecke said.

Coxhead decided to start the committee to help find ways to alleviate the school’s budget problems after attending a series of community meetings last month.

Coxhead approached the Parent Teacher Association for each D65 school and asked them to help her find people with skills or professional backgrounds that might benefit from the work of the ad-hoc committee.

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Parent group gives financial advice for D65 budget