More opposition to Dist. 220 cuts expected

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Updated 1/31/2011 6:57 PM

Last week's Barrington Unit District 220 school board meeting was filled with students, teachers and parents arguing against possible cuts to the Barrington High School theater program.

This week, parents of students in the district's gifted program are organizing to make their case against potential cuts.


Unless called off on account of the weather, the District 220 school board meeting Tuesday night will be focused on continuing to cut around $2 million from next year's budget.

For the third year in a row, district officials are in the midst of a two-month process to cut their budget due to economic and state-aid uncertainties.

Board members are considering different combinations of more than 200 suggestions from administrators.

While board members are trying to be evenhanded in their approach to a problem they didn't create, each year's search brings them closer to cutting more valuable programs, said board President Brian Battle.

"This is a very difficult process for the board," he said. "As advocates for education, we saw a value in almost everything that was in that document."

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The variety of potential cuts are such that nearly every student faces the possibility of being affected in some way.

Cathy Lehmann, who moved back to the Barrington area last year after 10 years in Seattle, has four boys in the gifted program.

"The reason we bought in Barrington is because of this program," Lehmann said Monday. "The program was everything they promised and more. It's really pretty impressive.

"I realize the reality of the economy and that things need to be cut, but we shouldn't be penny-wise and pound-foolish."

Lehmann said one of the big draws in Seattle was the ability to work for Microsoft. Likewise, District 220 officials should recognize their schools are the element that distinguishes the Barrington area from other suburbs and not sacrifice their strengths, she added.

Lehmann allowed that Washington state has financial issues of its own, including infrastructure repairs that were never done following an earthquake, plus an influx of people fleeing greater economic problems in California.


Battle said the perspectives of residents like Lehmann and others who support different programs will be encouraged at Tuesday's meeting and continuing through mid-March.

"Dialogues are healthy," Battle said. "They remind us of how valuable the programs we have really are."

The board remains aware, however, that a large number of voices at a meeting doesn't necessarily reflect the will of the entire community, he added.

The board meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Guidance Resource Center of Barrington High School at 616 W. Main St. in Barrington.