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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District 65 board approves 2024 final budget amid ongoing fiscal issues

Daily file photo by Patrick Svitek
The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Joseph E. Hill Education Center.

The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education approved its 2024 budget at a Monday night meeting.

Board members spoke about the key differences between the 2023 budget and the current one, which they described as “balanced” and “challenging.” The fiscal year 2024 budget has an additional $1.2 million in revenue and $1.7 million in expenses, meaning funds could be tight as the school year begins. 

The increase in expenses stems from salary increases, student transportation costs and other costs such as grounds maintenance according to an August 16 budget presentation.

The revenue increase comes from late property taxes. According to the budget presentation, District 65 did not receive the expected $1.2 million in property taxes from fiscal year 2022 levy but eventually acquired the money. 

“Despite the fact that it’s balanced, we face a lot of challenges,” District 65 Business Manager Kathy Zalewski said. “We’re facing a $4 million deficit, and we have a lot of work to do.”

Zalewski said the district has been spending too much in recent years. The 2023 fiscal year ended with an operating deficit of $7.5 million, the district’s first deficit since 2009. In the coming months, Zalewski said the board plans to begin a collaborative process to balance the 2025 fiscal year budget while promoting financial stability. 

“Our revenue is a finite amount, so we will be working collaboratively to look at the programs, to look at the costs of purchased services, of transportation to reduce those costs and live within our revenues,” Zalewski said. 

In its tentative budget presentation from two weeks ago, the board said the budget aims to improve access to common core aligned grade level standards, emphasize equity and culturally relevant teaching, attract and retain staff and encourage long-term financial sustainability. 

Board members noted the “super smooth” start to the new school year, celebrating recent programs within the district. 

District 65 Interim Superintendent Angel Turner highlighted the district’s K-5 literacy adoption initiative. The district decided last school year to utilize new material and curriculum for K-5 English literacy and language arts after identifying challenges, including a gap in reading level between white students and Black and Latine students with the previous literacy program. 

“Our teachers are very receptive,” Turner said. “So much so that in my time of meeting with our (executive) leadership on a daily basis, they’ve shared with us this need to continue to offer more professional learning so we could build the capacity of teachers to really work with our students. It’s just exciting to see happy kids, happy adults.”

The board also approved a $14,900 contract with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) to help the district search for a new superintendent. The new top D65 official would replace Devon Horton, who accepted a position in a Georgia school district in June. 

Email: [email protected]

Related Stores:

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Angel Turner named District 65 Interim Superintendent

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