Editorial: No simple fix for D65 budget

Jim Martinho

It has been a tough spring for Evanston/Skokie School District 65, as students, parents, teachers, administrators and school board members have grappled with how to solve the district’s $1.7 million budget deficit.

That the district has been forced into such a situation at all is at least partly the fault of a federal government without sufficient commitment to education and a state government that ranks 49th in the country in contributions to schools.

But all the finger wagging in the world will not cut the deficit, leaving the school board with no choice but to cut valuable programs and staff. On Monday the board created a list of 17 items that could be cut. Combined, the items cost the district about $3 million, meaning some on the list will be spared and some will not.

All of the items contribute to a successful school system. No matter what gets cut, someone will get hurt. Still, a few principles should guide the process. First, several programs on the list disproportionately seem to affect disadvantaged students. The board must keep in mind that cuts to programs serving these students will have a greater impact and must be done with care.

Second, the board must give priority to items that fulfill its educational mission. Board members seemed to have realized this by keeping elementary school band during school hours and saving drama programs.

Finally, though the board has done a good job listening to public comment, it also must remember that not everyone has the time or resources to attend every meeting or protest. Some interests that deserve consideration will remain underrepresented.

For their part residents should realize that certain proposals, such as outsourcing before- and after-school childcare, might not be ideal but could be worse. No parent will enjoy paying as much as $1,200 more a year for childcare at the McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St., but at least such a program still will exist.

The coming weeks are likely to be equally frustrating for everyone associated with D65. We hope the board acts with wisdom and a sense of fairness as it makes these important decisions.

Using wait list has its benefits

To anyone worrying about Northwestern not meeting its target class size of 1,925 students — and we don’t imagine there are very many of you — chill out.

NU came up only 25 students short and will have to dip into its wait list. Some worry that taking applicants off the wait-list just to meet the initial target will diminish NU’s prestige.

These worries are nothing a deep breath can’t cure. The Office of Undergraduate Admission sent admission letters to fewer applicants this year, anticipating a larger percentage of acceptances. This level of selectivity increased the quality of admitted applicants to include those who will receive offers from other prestigious universities. We all must realize that NU might not always beat out the Harvards and Stanfords.

Coming up slightly short on the target size has its pluses. Administrators will not have to deal with housing shortages and course overcrowding. Moreover, the top applicants on the wait list are perfectly capable of succeeding at NU. These applicants also have demonstrated their sincere desire to attend NU by requesting to stay on the wait list. Such commitment should not be overlooked — neither should the report that a greater number of underrepresented minorities received admission.

To boost yield levels, NU needs to take steps to improve its image so that it does not slip to “backup” status among the top-tier applicants it covets. An improved Preview NU — one that does not fall during midterms where students have no time to entertain prospies –would be a good start.