Thumbs-down: To a surplus that isn’t. Sycamore School District 427 officials talked this week about having balanced budgets and even a potential budget surplus of $460,000 between fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020 this week. That sounds great, but they also are authorized by the District 427 board to sell up to $5 million in tax anticipation warrants. These “warrants” are really short-term loans, borrowed against future tax receipts, that the district must pay interest on. Although we’re pleased that the district’s deficit reduction plan has made progress, and it’s good to see that there will not be any need to lay off teachers this year, it’s hard to see a surplus in the budget when the district continues to borrow millions against future tax receipts – with interest – to maintain its operations.
Thumbs-up: To raising money for a family in need. The owners of PJ’s Courthouse Tavern, John and Paul Schwartz, said they will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from sales on St. Patrick’s Day to the family of Javier and Maria Gonzalez, who have worked in the kitchen there for 22 years. The Gonzalezes lost everything to smoke, fire and water damage after a fire at their DeKalb home in February. It’s yet another example of how people in this community look out for one another.
Thumbs-up: To the thousands of residents, businesses, law enforcement officials and more who honored fallen McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner this week. Keltner, 35, of Crystal Lake, was shot and killed March 7 while attempting to serve an arrest warrant at a Rockford hotel. On Tuesday and Wednesday, thousands of people mourned Keltner at his visitation and funeral. The law enforcement procession after the funeral was estimated to have included more than 700 cars. Residents and businesses along the route, which stretched from Woodstock to Huntley, held signs and flags for the fallen deputy. We hope Keltner’s widow, Becki, and their two boys see the love and pride the community showed for Deputy Keltner.
Thumbs-up: To working for diversity in classrooms. Maurice McDavid is one of 22 Illinois educators participating in a new statewide initiative called Diverse and Learner-Ready Teacher Network. The goal is to help increase diversity among classroom teachers in public schools. Although about 52 percent of public school students in Illinois are ethnic minorities, that’s true for only about 15 percent of teachers. Teachers are important role models for children, and seeing a person who looks like you or shares a similar background can make a big difference for students. We hope McDavid and the initiative succeed in bringing more diversity to public school faculty around Illinois.