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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Proposed district budget features $2 million in shifts

After a tense spring of proposed program cuts, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board members will vote to adopt a balanced budget at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27.

On Sept. 13 the school district presented a tentative budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year at a school board meeting at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave. The proposed budget includes $2 million in total adjustments to planned spending.

In the tentative budget, the district has increased the price of early childhood childcare and cut four administrative positions and 14 teaching and social work positions. Additionally, instrumental music funding was reduced by $70,000, and the district eliminated its alternative school for students with discipline problems.

District Budget Manager Kathy Zalewski said board members chose to make cuts based on projections and scenarios that her office provided to them last spring.

“They try to stay away from the classroom and cut support services,” Zalewski said.

Board member Mary Rita Lueke said that the district is in the process of developing a paradigm to avoid making difficult program cuts in the future.

“We really tried to make the cuts just to get us through this year,” Lueke said.

After the district projected a deficit in operating funds last spring, the school board produced a list of $3 million in possible cuts, including a proposal to outsource the district’s childcare program to Evanston’s McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St.

Lueke said there will be some reductions in the district’s social work services and the reading program due to staff cuts, but the district will still be able to present services equivalent to last year’s.

She said that rather than cutting specific programs, the board was interested in making adjustments within individual departments, citing the district’s cut in social workers and instrumental music as examples.

She said that the instrumental music director determined that his department could afford to cut $70,000 and that the social workers were supplemental as well.

“We lost a grant that was funding six social workers who were supplemental to the ones we already had,” she said.

Lueke said that schools also will need to rethink how they discipline suspended students.

Last year, the district administrated an alternative school at Family Focus, 2010 Dewey Ave., for students who lived in the district but could not attend other schools for disciplinary reasons. She said building principals will now determine disciplinary action such as in-school suspensions.

Zalewski said any changes made to the budget before Sept. 27 will not affect the cuts in funding but may help cover deficits in individual funds that the district is running. The school’s general operating budget comprises 10 individual funds. A final budget must be filed by Sept. 30 under state law.

Reach Ben Clark at [email protected].

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Proposed district budget features $2 million in shifts