Thumbs-down: To a proposed $60,000 bet with the District 428 school board. Local landlord Jim Mason this week offered to abandon his recently dismissed federal suit against the district, which seeks $135 million in property tax rebates. He would do this only if the district agrees to examine every student in the district to see if they legally live within the district boundaries. Mason contends at least 7% of the district's 6,500 students actually live elsewhere and falsely enroll in local schools using a friend or relative's address. He says that he is willing to pay the estimated $60,000 cost of such an investigation, but if the results prove he is right, he'll want reimbursement.
Board members don't need to accept such terms. A 2018 check of about 20 percent of the roughly 6,500 students found less than 5% had legitimate residency questions. A judge has dismissed Mason's suit and ordered him to pay the district's court costs. The last investigation led many to say they felt targeted. We don't support a school district full of "free riders," but don't see much incentive for the district to launch another tedious and potentially divisive hunt for out-of-district children.
Thumbs-up: To a new home for the Family Service Agency of DeKalb County. The agency, which oversees a number of social-service programs in the county, purchased the three-story, 15,000-square-foot former Associated Bank building at 1325 Sycamore Road in DeKalb in June 2018. After an extensive rehab of the building, the agency moved in this month. The new space is more equipped to fit the agency's needs, with a secluded space for medical examinations and child-friendly interview space for children who may have suffered abuse. There is counseling space, office space for the agency's 30-person staff, and a basement community room. The agency's mission of supporting children, low-income people and others in the community is important and they should be much better equipped to meet community needs in their new quarters.
Thumbs-up: To local women leaders. The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the ATHENA committee this week named six local women who are finalists for the ATHENA Award. The award recognizes women who have been leaders and mentors to others in the community. It also marks the 30th year for the awards. In addition to the six finalists, two women, Northern Illinois University retirees Susan Doubler and Margaret Phillips have been named Women of Accomplishment. The community's 30-year tradition of recognizing women leaders is a great one. We congratulate all the finalists and hope that they will continue to lead and inspire others.