Thumbs-up: To continued educational improvement. DeKalb’s Tyler Elementary School and Hinckley-Big Rock High School both were named to the 2013 Illinois Honor Roll for academic improvement by the state this week. Tyler went from being deemed below academic standards the past two years to being one of the most improved schools in the state. At Hinckley-Big Rock, they didn’t have similar academic issues, but were able to further improve on their students’ test scores to earn recognition. Great work by all the students, teachers and administrators who made it happen.
Thumbs-up: To ending ticket quotas for police officers. A bill approved by the state legislature and sent this week to the desk of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for his approval would prevent law enforcement agencies from requiring officers to write a certain number of traffic citations within a given time period. Officers also could not be evaluated based on the number of tickets they issue. Enforcement of traffic laws should be about protecting public safety, not about generating revenue for local governments.
Thumbs-down: To financial shortfalls in local government. The DeKalb City Council is considering whether to increase property taxes to cover the cost of pension funds for city workers, which long have been paid with general fund revenues. The city expects to have a $600,000 budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, in part because its general fund is being used to cover other expenses, such as pension costs. Meanwhile, DeKalb School District 428 is reporting that they expect to have a $3.5 million deficit next year, caused in part by reduced state aid and by one-time costs to put a pre-kindergarten and early childhood education center in Huntley Middle School. There’s not talk there of increasing taxes. Budget deficits are not always easy to close, but they can not be allowed to continue indefinitely.
Thumbs-up: To the upside of being cold. The cool, wet weather that delayed spring may have seemed like torture to winter-weary people, but it also put a damper on mosquito activity. Greg Maurice, the director of health protection at the DeKalb County Health Department, said the cool weather delayed the start of West Nile virus season. The mosquitoes that carry the virus breed in stagnant water, and the weather they thrive in is hot and dry. There were no human cases of West Nile in DeKalb County last year, but 30 people died from the virus statewide.
Thumbs-up: To the many Memorial Day services and ceremonies planned throughout the county this weekend. Events include parades and cemetery services in every corner of the county. Please take some time to participate in one of these events or just take a moment to remember the men and women who have died while serving our country.