D65 Lacking On Policy

Editor:

Due to a history of indecisiveness, the District 65 School Board has been forced to suspend policy and follow the administration’s quick-fix suggestion of cap-and-transferring children from the incoming
kindergarten classes for managing enrollment in 2010. Willard, Lincolnwood and Dewey schools will miss the opportunity to welcome new neighbors, families with first-time school-age children, and others who didn’t know about, or couldn’t arrange for a day off of work, thereby missing the “Early Registration” date and prioritized placement in their neighborhood school.

At the March 2 meeting, Mr. Terry suggested that the Board identify a short-list of possible solutions and then make room on the agenda to further explore each item in consecutive Board meetings. While Dr. Murphy voiced his objections by questioning how the Board “could get any
work done with that cloud hanging over their heads,” I heard no follow-up responses by Board members regarding Mr. Terry’s suggestion or any alternative suggestions.

If this Board doesn’t have a road map for guiding discussions that delve into possible solutions with facts and figures, how can it make an informed decision on behalf of District 65 residents and their schools? Will another year go by with no Board action moving toward resolution of
this critical question impacting our community? Are we destined to remain stuck in purposeless debates over program placement, redistricting, giving the magnet schools a draw, building additions,
art-on-a-cart, and a new 5th Ward school?

We elected you as members of the District 65 Board , assuming a level of leadership capability that includes convening thorough, focused and purposeful discussions to find responsible and feasible long-term solutions for enrollment and overcrowding problems across the District.

Please, step up to the leadership responsibility vested in you, and make something happen.

–Dawn Larbalestier

Clarification From Lighthouse Land Trust

Editor:

Thank you for your on-going attention to affordable housing development issues in general.  The RoundTable provides excellent information about community efforts in particular. Please give me an opportunity to clarify some information mentioned at the City Council’s last Planning and Development Committee meeting regarding our request for additional funds and reported in the RoundTable.  

First, the area bank that financed our original acquisition and development loan also provided us a loan to finance the closing when we sold the house last year. It is a promissory note and the responsibility of the organization.  Another matter concerns the amount of HOME funds to the project.

As staff note, they did recommend $8,500 to the project to reduce the purchase price from $180,000 to $169,000 in April, 2008. The additional grant and price change provided for a wider pool of buyers, including those with less than 20% down-payment. We had requested the funds to be available to eligible buyers with a conventional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. The reduction in price, however, resulted in a net increase of funds payable by us to the project by $2,500.  We revised our project budget and contributed the cash.

When we did sell the house, it should be noted that the buyers’ funds and our total cash contribution to the project amounts to 57% of the total project cost.  This means that HOME funds provided only 43% of the project’s total acquisition and development costs.

Note that the buyer’s funds represent nearly 79% of the home’s purchase price, far higher than (IHDA) the state affordable housing development agency’s guidelines for similarly funded projects.

Typically, HOME funds are awarded to a project and resale is restricted for a fixed period only. Once the restriction period is concluded, the home is returned to the private market and the value of the subsidy is lost.

I hope you and your readers will agree that this is a meritorious and practical use of funds, invested to maintain economic diversity in Evanston housing even as future federal support for affordable housing is likely to decline.

–Wilfred Gadsden, Citizens’ Lighthouse Community Land Trust

The Depression

Depression Evanston was thrift-priced.

Nickel bread cheaply fed as un-sliced.

Three-cent mail was first class.

Tenth-cent mil paid sales tax.

Frozen block in a box kept foods iced.

— Robert Bagby

‘Bravo’ to ESANDE

 Editor:

I would like to say “bravo” to ESANDE, the dance group at Evanston Township High School, for including some of the school’s special needs students in its performances. 

This tradition began approximately 20 years ago when ESANDE’s director and a physical education teacher, Kathleen Neal, started a PE class that mixed mainstream and special needs kids. 

Since this class came to be, special needs students have been invited to participate in ESANDE which has given them an opportunity to interact with mainstream students in a way that was not previously available to them.  

 — Julie Cutter