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Hot Money For Evanston's Schools

Thinking outside the box just might be what it takes…

I’m not moving anytime soon. Still, I find it interesting to learn what others’ impressions are of Evanston. 

For instance, someone considering our town as a potential home might click on a site like www.HomeSurfer.com. It describes us in a variety of ways, but the one detail we might all consider – whether or not our children attend/attended Evanston/Skokie District 65 -- is how our school district fares in student performance AND in its financial statements. 

I’ll be honest: I don’t know anything about HomeSurfer.com.  I'll also leave the number crunching to the experts.  I do recognize, however, that our school system is hurting.  It has tremendous merits, but it has a long way to go, and we're not rolling in extra funds.  

Potential home buyers considering Evanston peruse sites like HomeSurfer.com all the time.  A city’s public elementary school system is often the litmus test for home buyers. It’s really too bad potential buyers aren’t given a personal tour of the Joseph E. Hill Education Center (a.k.a., the headquarters for school district 65 or, as one District 65 teacher referred to it today, “The Big House”).  What a stunning example of a school district's success!

Not.

We’ve got kids on 101 degree days like yesterday and today, sweltering in classrooms without air conditioning and fighting over spots in front of fans.  We’ve got administrators enjoying comfortable central air and ergonomic seating while our students are wilting in 3rd floor classrooms.  Have you ever tried to concentrate when you're sweating? 

A heat watch was issued by the City of Evanston Tuesday.  A heat watch?  How ironic that these final school days (extended due to the blizzard in February!) haven't been canceled due to the lack of adequately cool classrooms. 

A friend of mine picked her kids up from school early today.  She said she felt guilty sitting in her air conditioned home, thinking about her young children sitting in their non-air-conditioned classrooms during this last week of school. When I arrived to pick mine up at dismissal time, there were parking spots aplenty...everyone seemed to have grabbed their kids and whisked them to local cooling centers.

I’ve got an idea!  Let’s rent out our overheated classrooms to yoga instructors.  Hot yoga is the latest rage, right?   Hot yoga classes in the elementary schools! When the weather’s this hot, we can rent out tens – nay – hundreds of sweltering rooms to yogis everywhere.  We’d make a killing.

Our students could spend time outside in the fresh air (or at least under the shade of trees) while businesses (and folks like "The Yelling Yogi") could rent our overheated classrooms for their hot yoga courses.  It’s a win-win for everyone. 

Of course, we'd have to affix special coat-racks outside the studios/classrooms for District 65 administrators attending hot yoga classes on their lunch hours; no doubt they all wear lots of layers working in that beautifully air-conditioned building of theirs.

Christine Wolf June 08, 2011 at 10:33 PM
I'm an active member of the PTA, more than happy to volunteer my time and raise funds for enrichment and scholarships. However, with the taxes we pay in Evanston, it's surprising that some might suggest that a PTA bear the brunt of financial responsibility for infrastructure modification like electricity upgrades or air conditioner purchases. I spoke with teachers again today, some of whom teach in classes exceeding 90 degrees. Does anyone else think that's unreasonable? Would the PTAs be asked to provide space heaters if the boilers went out in the schools?
Richard Schulte June 10, 2011 at 01:30 AM
"To disparage the Administration and Staff in our administration building by implying that they are cool and comfortable while students, teachers, and other staff suffer, is divisive, incendiary, and misleading." Perhaps we could find some "waste, fraud and abuse" at the Administration Building and use those funds for air conditioning. What is really divisive and incendiary is the amount of taxpayer dollars allocated to Administration. Surely, we could cut some administrative staff. The private sector has been shedding jobs for 2 or 3 years now. It's time for the public sector to do the same. There's plenty of money in the system. The school district is not supposed to be a public jobs program.
Evanstonian June 10, 2011 at 02:13 AM
On days over 80 degrees move classes to Joseph Hill and administrators to 3rd floor classrooms.
Evanston resident June 11, 2011 at 09:39 PM
First of all I LOVE "Evanstonian's" comment. What a grand idea. Let's invite the administrators work in the 90-degree classrooms while the teachers and students "teach and learn to the end" in the administrators' humane conditions. I disagree with the comment by Richard S. that "To disparage the Administration and Staff in our administration building by implying that they are cool and comfortable while students, teachers, and other staff suffer, is divisive, incendiary, and misleading." HOW IS THAT MISLEADING? As one of the teachers that sweltered in the heat along with the students I can attest to the fact that we were indeed SWELTERING. We were unable to do our jobs efficiently and the students most certainly were unable to learn. Thus, our job became ensuring that all were adequately hydrated and taking "shifts" in the two rooms that have A/C to prevent anyone from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. What then would you call the administration and staff working in humane, air-conditioned rooms if not COOL and COMFORTABLE! Cool and UNCOMFORTABLE? I suppose if you are saying that they were too cold and needed to put on a sweater to be comfortable then you are indeed correct!
Richard Schulte June 12, 2011 at 12:39 AM
The comment "To disparage the Administration and staff . . . " was Anne Sills' comment, not mine. There's more than enough of taxpayer funds to provide air conditioning. The problem is the "waste, fraud and abuse" in the school district. Let's reduce the number of Administration employeees and funnel the money saved into providing air conditioning. Once, the schools are air conditioned, then the schools can be in session during the summer. Our students don't need to help on the farm anymore, so there is no practical reason why our children shouldn't be in school during July and August, except for the air conditioning issue. That would be a good way to keep our children off the streets during the long hot summer.

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