We District 112 voters can’t afford to sit out the election on April 4 — because the future of our local schools is in at stake. So I urge you to vote for Art Kessler for the North Shore School District 112 Board.
My comments here will be focused on Kessler, but I want to mention all the “JKL” candidates — Jenks, Kessler and Lasko—plus Alex Brunk:
- Dan Jenks has deep financial expertise and built the 2.0 model after extensively studying the district’s finances.
- Bennett Lasko is a lawyer who resolves complex litigation issue for his clients and worked on the SCFFAC (the school superintendent’s citizen advisory committee).
- Alex Brunk is a data scientist who is able to analyze issues from all directions, and was part of CARE that opposed the middle school referendum.
Candidate Art Kessler, a concerned parent of two school-age children, is highly motivated to make the quality of education in our community as great as it once was.
He recognizes that the key issue is our urgent need to fix the school system’s finances. As a successful business owner, he knows how to lead that fix.
The reason our schools are in financial trouble is that we’ve been spending too much money to keep 12 buildings open. We have fewer school-age kids than in the past, but we’re still keeping the same number of classrooms and school buildings open—and that costs money we just don’t have. Neighboring school districts have downsized in recent years, but we have not. We do need to be sensitive to parents who don’t want their neighborhood school to close and we should not close any more schools than are absolutely necessary. But we have to be realistic about our finances because the quality of education is suffering.
Because money has been tight, the school system has cut costs by cutting important programs like foreign languages in the elementary schools and scaling back programs like Advanced Learning Opportunities for advanced students. We have also been slow to update our curriculum.
Our neighbors like Deerfield, Glencoe and Northbrook have full day kindergarten — and we don’t.
And because money has been so tight, we have cut the budget for paying our teachers. As a result, we have given early retirement to some of our most experienced teachers. And if our current financial situation does not change, it’s not clear that we can continue to offer competitive salaries to new teachers, compared to what neighboring communities offer.
All these problems affect the quality of education, and it shows up in the standardized test scores: On “Percent Ready for Next Level,” our district scored 48%, while Deerfield scored 76%.
I’ve been hearing that some young families are choosing to buy homes in neighboring towns instead of moving here, because of the unresolved problems with our school system. That would tend to reduce our property values.
Art Kessler supports reconfiguring the school district in a smart way, balancing quality of education with the community’s desire for neighborhood schools, plus a recognition of the need to be careful with the taxpayer’s dollars.
Vote for Art Kessler on April 4 — or go to the polls now for Early Voting, which has already begun. In fact, vote for all the “JKL” candidates — Jenks, Kessler, and Lasso — plus Alex Brunk.