EDITORíS DESK: Painful times for School District 11

       If you have children in District 11, these are times to try your souls. It could be argued that this is the most painful cutback effort the district has ever undertaken - the reason being that in previous decades people did not have a choice in what schools their kids attended. But now that they do, the possibility of losing a school that was carefully chosen, and for reasons that may seem esoteric or arbitrary, has got to be infuriating.
       But what is District 11 to do? According to numbers presented at the first of this month's series of citizen meetings, the district is looking at a $2 million budget shortfall this year, and worsening numbers in coming years if nothing is done.
       Not wanting to be just another ignorant critic, I participated in the subgroup question-answer effort at the first meeting. It was real work. We (myself and eight parents and administrators representing five different schools), leafed repeatedly through the big draft document that lists district assumptions and possible school moves, realignments or closures, looking for clues on what to do. I was impressed by the willingness of the others in my group to soldier on as D-11 consultant John Kerr requested, to take off their "school hats" and put on a "district hat" and objectively pursue solutions that are good for all. I tried to do likewise, but my bias would not let go easily. The Westside's tradition of small schools is one likely casualty in this efficiency effort and, even though I can see the district's argument that larger schools are less costly to operate and can offer more programs, our little schools on the Westside have come to be like the glue that holds neighborhoods together. I worry about what might happen if we no longer have that. The district might come out ahead, but what about us as a community? Will we still have the same soul?

- K.J.