More Budget Cuts for Dist. 203 Could Eliminate Educational Programs

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 8, 2002 | Go to article overview

More Budget Cuts for Dist. 203 Could Eliminate Educational Programs


Byline: Denise Raleigh

A few hours ago, I dropped my fifth-grade son and his duffel bag at school for what he anticipates will be "the best field trip in my life." According to his older brothers and friends, it probably will be.

His fifth-grade class will be the last group to enjoy overnight outdoor education with funding for overnight stipends being paid by Naperville Unit District 203.

Parents already cover most of the cost of this program, and I hope before we eliminate the overnight portion we will figure out how to make up the difference so future students can benefit from this experience.

Fees - the transfer of costs from districts to families - is a revenue source that has not been capped. While property taxes have been capped since 1991 at 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, District 203 school fees have almost tripled.

Something to bear in mind while contemplating our vote on the district's March 19 referendum question to raise taxes by $511 a year for the owner of a $300,000 house is that educational services already have been denigrated for next year.

This year's fifth-graders also are the last class who will benefit from elementary foreign language. Funding for elementary students' field trips to the DuPage Children's Museum and Naper Settlement also has been cut.

I thought it would be useful to identify some of the other non- mandated programs on the Educational/Financial Impact Analysis list from which cuts have been made.

Although I'm going to list how many students are currently benefiting, the numbers alone don't do them justice. If you live in District 203, I'm sure kids you know have or will benefit from these programs.

I'm disappointed adults have made decisions that put these programs at risk. I'm aware some have challenged the district's financial forecasts that predict a huge deficit unless the tax rate is raised. Some call the list of evaluated programs "scare tactics" and believe programs won't be cut no matter what happens March 19.

I say that unless you've got an infallible ability to read the minds of seven school board members, along with economic forecast abilities well beyond those of Wall Street, neither you nor I know what will happen to programs if the referendum doesn't pass.

Assistant Superintendent Lenore Johnson and coordinator Mickey Fischer, the longtime gurus of District's 203's much-heralded curriculum, provided me with numbers. Here are some programs on the impact list:

- Eliminating one class period at the high school level. The additional course has been available for at least 20 years. Eliminating it, of course, will affect access to myriad subject areas as students will be forced to prioritize for graduation and college requirements. Forty percent, or 2,400, of high school students take the additional class. This cut is projected to save $938,108. …

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