VIDEO: Voters Reject High School Referendum

Opponents hope to see better spending plan.

After months of community contention, voters strongly defeated a Tuesday. The proposal provided for capital improvements at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools. 

Voting against the proposal were 8,872 citizens (56 percent). The measure was supported by 6,831 people (44 percent). 

“People recognized a better plan was needed,” Pete Koukos said. Koukos was one of the leaders of , the advocacy group opposed to the referendum. “The board will now have to revisit the issue addressing needs, not wants.” 

Robert Kellman, the campaign manager for Citizens Aiming for Responsible Enhancements (CARE), the advocacy group supporting the referendum, believes improvements will eventually be made at the schools. 

“At the end of the day people know what needs to be done and it will be done,” Kellman said. “People still care about the schools.” 

Annette Lidawer, a board member whose term expires in 2013, was disappointed with the defeat of the proposed spending plan. She recognizes necessary work remains. 

“I hope we can provide for our children the way we have an obligation to do so,” she said. “We need to look at this before construction costs go up and before our needs escalate even further.” She hopes to see a new ballot proposal in the March, 2012 primary election.

District 113 Superintendent George Fornero also expressed his regret with the proposal's outcome. “We are extremely disappointed that the referendum did not pass. The board of Ed unanimously voted to place this question on the ballot because they believe the defined renovations are essential,” he released in a statement to Patch late Tuesday.

“At future meetings we will begin to discuss where we go from here. But tonight [Tuesday] we are disheartened because we believe this plan was necessary, fiscally responsible and representative of community input. We've said all along our building needs are not going away. We have to figure out how to tackle these significant challenges.”

Click on the video above to hear reaction from both Education First and CARE members on election night. 

David Greenberg April 09, 2011 at 01:11 PM
They are items to be examined. If it's more cost effective to gut B/C, replace infrastructure, then I'll support that. Everyone I've talked to in the District that was against the referendum said they would have voted for it, had it not focused on WANTS. So again, the trick is to determine wants v. needs and exclude the former. A justification for each need will need to be made so people understand why it's a need - not everyone will agree, but it's a start...
Naomi Chambers April 09, 2011 at 01:18 PM
Greenberg, For all your thousands (millions?)of postings, you still have said nothing just like the Education First Web-site says nothing. You and your minions shot the referendum down, I would suggest you "get to work" on your better plan, instead of posting the countless negative post; we are all waiting for these "open meetings". Have they been scheduled, there still is nothing posted on the Ed first website, and yours is simply a tribute to yourself with more negativity. To date, you have posted nothing positive, and you have critized every suggestion. In the meantime, I challenge you not to post until you are ready with your better plan. You were the candidate, you nearly were elected, prove you have leadership skills, talk is cheap! So far that is all you are. Lets see some action, no more posting about what your "gonna do"
Ellen April 09, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Dear Education First - I would sincerely like to know when you are having your meeting with the board. I believe it may be this coming week? I am assuming it will open for all to attend. Please post it on your website for the community to see (unless your website goes down again for 5 days)!
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 09, 2011 at 01:45 PM
"I'm not giving the process time to work" because I'm not the one who put the April 6 date out there. That's the date of the big-talkin' E-1st group, not me. You're speaking and defending these guys. What the h*ll has happened in four days? If it's too early to offer a report, when can we expect a report? One more thing: you asked why a plan would be ready before the referendum failed. I'd call it being prepared. Nothing has changed in the situation. E-1st says it wants the best plan for the district. I'd think it would be ready with a plan to present instantly to be involved in the discussion. Well ...?
Harry Steindler April 09, 2011 at 02:57 PM
David - you are wrong about comments about the Wolters Field turf campaign. My comments were not out of jealousy that HPHS was getting ahead - I talked about the athletic fields needs at DHS before I had any knowledge of the HPHS turf campaign. The Wolters discussion opened my eyes to greater needs. The culmination of my comments to the board over many months is shown below. From the May 3rd 2010 board meeting minutes, second round of citizen's comments, "Harry Steindler, DHS parent, stated there have been years of neglect to the athletic fields. After listening to comments on Wolters Field, he feels there needs to be a master plan for improvement of all athletic facilities. The same problems that exist at Wolters Field exist at Adams FIeld. He suggested that a task force be put together to look at all facility improvement needs. He reiterated that there is no freshman baseball field at DHS." The discussions about Wolters Field and knowledge I had gained through observation and involvement over the years led to those comments.
Naomi Chambers April 09, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Mr. Greenberg and Education 1st have the answer and the plan, lets see what they will do, it is now April 9th. The countdown has begun, put up or shut-up!
jim longman April 09, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Mr Greenberg: I've told you multiple times where to go to get the information about maintenance of synthetic surface fields. You can pick up the phone and call the athletic departments or schools that have it. You obviously don't trust anyone else but your own research, so why haven't you done it? You've had almost a year to find out actual costs of turf fields from real people in our area - but haven't reported. Our fields aren't used from Mid May through Late August, during the heat of the summer. For the period of time that the field may be too hot - a couple of weeks - they will either water it for 15 minutes or not use it. Hardly a reason to be against turf. You say that the board "ignored" your submissions. I'm sure they read them and disagreed. You state you don't take mfr's "dog and pony shows as gospel". Well, the Board didn't take your "dog and pony show" as gospel either. They asked their peers, did their homework and decided that the HPHS Giants Club "made them an offer they couldn't refuse". The district spent over $600,000 maintaining a natural grass surface at Wolters Field in the last 10 years. Without a synthetic grass surface, costs of maintaining a stadium field at Wolters would be the same over the next 10 years. What you really are is MR. NO. Any improvement you are against. If I'm wrong, please detail the capital expenditures that you SUPPORT the Dist 113 board spending money on. Not maintenance, CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS.
phylis bagan April 09, 2011 at 05:25 PM
The name calling and elevated rhetoric need to cease. Placing the blame on Ed.1st discredits the 8800 PLUS people who voted against this plan. Ed1st has always said we would welcome the opportunity to work with the Board on a cheaper proposal. How do anyone of you know ..except for the people who have contacted the Board who does/does not want to work together. The conjecture and feeding flames of anger are counterproductive and show the WORST that our community has to offer. If you don't like the outcome of the decision on April 5th..perhaps you should look at why the numerous mailings, postcards, forums, staff time etc. presentation did NOT resonate with the community. The economy stinks...now deal with issues at hand.
jim longman April 09, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Phylis:: It's easy to criticize and hard to govern. Education first has said "let's get to work on a better plan". The concern of those that are not part of your organization is that you like to criticize, but don't like to govern. Obviously, you were very effective with your message. We are interested in knowing exactly what you support so you will SUPPORT a new plan and fight FOR the new plan as rigorously and fervently as you fought AGAINST the plan that failed on Tuesday. Your post, again, is negative "deal with the issues at hand". We want to know what you will support. Please tell us. Some say it with disdain and sarcasm. I truly want to know. The schools have severe needs. I'll ask again, without rhetoric. Education First has poked holes in the existing plan, what will you support and what will you not support in the next process. If I were on the Dist 113 board, I would not want to beat my head against the wall again without a specific mandate from the community. Is the mandate do nothing? Some on these posts believe it is. You've seemingly spent countless hours studying the plan. What would you vote for? Is it a $ amount or the specifics of the plan that you want to see. For instance "I won't support anything more than $90 million" or "I won't support any fieldhouse or pool" or "I will support rehab and upgrading only existing space". You won, and you seemingly want "education first". What do you support? It's easy to say no.
Ellen April 09, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Phylis - No, education first said lets get to work on a better plan. They did not say "we would welcome the opportunity to work with the Board on a cheaper proposal". They made the community believe that they had a better plan in the works than the one out there. There is nothing rhetoric about that - just the plain truth. Thats what I thought. I have contacted the board and no one seems to know of a meeting. The anger of the no committee was loud and clear - slanderous name calling and politics at their worst. The way I look at it - whoever shouted the loudest won. The negativity was loud and clear. I feel bad you think that the economy stinks - I feel it is turning around and getting better everyday. I guess I perfer to be an optimist rather than a pessimist. It is easier to go through life that way, more exhausting being negative all the time.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther April 09, 2011 at 09:21 PM
As someone who has not engaged in name calling or, I don't believe, devisive rhetoric, I want raise a couple of points that I have noticed. First, I do not believe that there is a consensus amongst the voters as to why they did or did not support the referendum, That is, in fact, the single biggest issue in trying to develop a different plan. The Board engaged in a process and put forth a proposal that they believed was best for the students and taxpayers of the district. The voters disagreed. Ed First who led the opponents asked for a better process and a better plan. Now they need to step up and tell us what, in their opinion, that plan looks like and what is the inclusive process that they will engage the community in. David Greenberg says that process has already begun. However, no one in this, or any other, public forum has described that process and how it will bring the community together to solve the real problems that exist in the buildings. To me, this is most critical, b/c though I supported this proposal, I may not support a proposal that I do not believe adequately solves the problems in the buildings. continued
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther April 09, 2011 at 09:26 PM
I'm far less interested in the PLAN and far more concerned about how that plan is arrived at. I wrote Pete Koukos and offered my help and was told that Richard Becker would be in charge of developing a plan. I promptly withdrew my offer because I believe that a true community building effort is not run by the supporters or opponents, but by both groups together. As I have said before, now is the time to come together. The election is over and the people have spoken. We need to understand what they are saying, and I don't believe it is as black and white as Phyllis says, analyze the problems and come up with solutions that solve the problems. And, if some of the opponents are true to their words, we can get broader support regardless of the cost.
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 09, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Phyllis - First of all, interesting use of the word "we" when referring to E-1st. So, my guess is that you are not as separate from the organization as you portray. If you think it's bad for the community to hold your group accountable and this is the worst the community has to offer, you might want to consider someone who bases a vocal campaign on many strict promises, yet never lifts a finger to deliver on those promises. Originally, I agreed with a lot of what E-1st said. It's too bad they lost my vote and continue to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to back up their propaganda - zilch. So does the empty rhetoric anger me? Yes it does because: a) It distracts people who are honestly trying to do good work; b) Stunts the growth of the community; c) Is just plain messing with education; and d) Cost the community money. That's the whole focus of the opposition, i$$$$$$$n't it. Yet, it just cost the community more time and money for a second plan. BRILLIANT!! By the way, this isn't the first time several leaders of E-1st have done this in Deerfield, so you might want to consider those costs also. I continue to ask simple questions. What is the target cost E-1st would like to see? When should we expect a report based on the promised work that began April 6? Think of how much better the discussion would be if they answered those simple questions instead of side-stepping any and all attempts to pin down their moving target.
Drew Hawkings April 10, 2011 at 06:14 AM
they made the right decision. they weren't able to con people into overspending on the schools. I work in commercial construstion at the estimates are grossly overstated. Looks like somebody is trying to make some construction compant a boatload of money on the back of the taxpayers. To bad it's not going to happen SCUMBAGS!
David Greenberg April 10, 2011 at 07:51 AM
Jim, I don't make any dog 'n pony shows - I'm not a vendor selling a product. It's not up to me to provide those figures, it's up to the Board to provide them to the Public as part of it's due diligence. If there's claims being made about cost savings - let's see them. To me, proper due diligence means talking to actual users - not just ones referred by the manufacturer, or just our "peers" - whenever I go out to buy a product, I want to talk to people across the spectrum because I want to know what the issues or risks will be - then I compare and contrast against what is currently in place to make a decision. If the District spent $60,000/year on maintaining the grass surface, what were those costs comprised of? Salaries? Equipment? Fuel? Seed? Water? Pesticides? Where did you obtain that number from? Regarding the heat - the studies I read said that there were issues with high surface temperatures on the turf at relatively low air temperatures, so it may not even be summer that's a concern. I'm not against "any improvement" or "Mr. No", I'm not against capital improvements that are needs. In this economy - I'm against the WANTS.
jim longman April 10, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Mr Greenberg: I've answered your questions multiple times. Answer my question. What capital improvements are you FOR. What NEED do you see at the schools that are NOT maintenance?
David Greenberg April 10, 2011 at 06:53 PM
The back-and-forth complaining isn't going to get any of us anywhere. I've said that I want to see a solution that takes into account ideas and thoughts from both sides of the aisle so we can meet the needs of the District. To that end, I've set up a public forum on my website - there's just three topics there right now - Academics, Athletics, Maintenance. I have a couple of sub-groups, and places for DHS, or HPHS only items.. http://www.davidgreenberg.org/forum Or visit: http://www.davidgreenberg.org and click on PLANNING FORUMS We can create any number of sub-topics we want, have attachments, etc. All are welcome, anyone can participate - so long as they're not making personal attacks, I'm not planning on banning people or moderating the comments. Examples: * One group could delve into the issues dealing with the pool @ HPHS another at the DHS pool * Lack of an indoor track at DHS * Safety improvements at the HPHS indoor track * Safety issues at the schools - let students or teachers post things that they consider unsafe * Maintenance issues - let students or teachers post things they consider to require maintenance. Even better if they post how it's adversely affecting the educational process * Technology: I'd really like to know how they plan to use it. What's it going to do to improve the education of the students? I'd love to hear from some teachers, students. We might get some really great ideas that could save us money in the long run.
kurt swanson April 10, 2011 at 11:33 PM
have you ever been on that turf in the middle of august when your son/daughter is doing 2 a days. i have , it Will be 100+ degrees in mid afternoon when the sun is beating down.
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 11, 2011 at 06:21 AM
So you want to discuss the same topics ... again? Unbelievable. You know that the issues haven't changed, right? How about A FREAKIN' PLAN?!?!?!? Let's see YOUR IDEAS ... IN DETAIL ... in one focused document. You've had enough time. Let's go: put it out there, let people respond and give the board something substantial to consider. If this is the way the vocal opposition to this referendum plans on being involved, I send my complete sympathy to the entire board.
David Greenberg April 11, 2011 at 06:45 AM
Stop with the melodramatics already, it's not helping anything. The phrase "SO WE CAN GET TO WORK ON A BETTER PLAN" means "WE" - the community in conjunction with the District. The first plan was packed with WANTS. A better plan will be focused on the needs. Obviously it's going to require discussion from all involved. We've already seen what happens when only one side is involved. Would you rather continue to rant here or actually contribute on a forum that's being dedicated to the purpose at hand?
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 11, 2011 at 07:04 AM
Dude, you are the LAST person to lecture anybody on useless and melodramatic ranting online. And as long as you do it, I'll be here too. You see my problem is that I don't think your site will be anything except a forum for your comments. What do you propose will be done with all the comments? And don't tell me that potentially several hundred messages will be sent to the board in an unorganized fashion. That will do them no good. If you were to tell me that you will develop a focused and concise line-item plan based on messages over the next ten days, I could go with that. Three-to-five promenant citizens on both sides of the discussion can develop the plan with you and present it publicly on your site and to the board. Would you commit to providing that type of detailed proposal? If so, when would you like to post it on your site? Now, THAT would be constructive. (There it is for you, Dave, on a silver platter. You can be the hero.)
David Greenberg April 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM
I don't want it to be a forum for just my comments. It's got to be from "both sides of the aisle" - that is - multiple points of view. I don't want it to be some unorganized jumble either - I've gone and created some initial top-level categories to get things going, and some initial sub-level categories that are related to each school below those. As more are needed, they can be easily created. I'd LOVE to have prominent persons involved posting and hashing things out. When we get something nailed down, we can lock the topic - and that information can be pulled out and added to a line-item plan. I really do want the whole thing to be public. Once it's all hashed out, we can put it together and present to the Board for their review... Please, take a look at the forum - let me know what you think of the initial setup and what, if any, other categories need to be added...
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 11, 2011 at 06:28 PM
What is the date on the calendar that you propose an initial, detailed plan can be formulated and posted on your site? Let's be generous. How about June 1? Otherwise, i believe the community would be open to any sort of firm date you suggest. Without a solid plan, it's simply the same circular discussion with no input to the board.
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 11, 2011 at 06:40 PM
To E-1st ... Why do you delete my simple one-sentence questions on your site? They were not inflamatory. They were very reasonable. I simply want to know when we can expect a report on the post-vote work that you're doing? Is that such an offensive question considering the promises of your campaign?
David Greenberg April 11, 2011 at 06:44 PM
The date would depend on the amount of input we get, and where we are in the planning process. June 1 isn't a bad target to shoot for - if we can get people engaged.
Anne April 11, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Yep! They are counting on everyone just "forgetting" about the issues and problems, besides, DG will chime in to go to his web-page where he the "great" communicator has set-up a blog, because he is "all-knowing" and right. Face it there is no plan....there will be no plan, just bickering. Too many people just too self-centered to see the forest through the trees.
David Greenberg April 11, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Incorrect - no one expects anyone to forget anything - let alone the needs of the schools, or why the referendum was defeated. I'm not "all knowing", sure I'm an expert in some things, but not "every thing". If you'd like to help contribute to a better plan - you are welcome to do so, just as everyone is. I'm simply providing an electronic version of a meeting room for that to take place.
Natalie Kaplan April 11, 2011 at 07:47 PM
I’d like to thank everyone for commenting up a storm recently. However, I’d also like to ask that we try and be respectful and continue the conversation in a meaningful way. If you’ve already posted a comment, please do not post something similar. Also, Patch is not a place for personal attacks against others. To read up on our rules for commenting checkout: http://patch.com/A-cp4P. Happy Monday and thanks for signing onto Patch!
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 11, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Dave, if you really want to move this forward, there shouldn't be any stipulations. Either the community joins in the discussion or not. If the community doesn't find your leadership of the discussion worthwhile, then there is no shame in putting out a separate detailed plan for the community to discuss and the board to consider. Simply put it out there with a certain period of time for consideration and discussion. then you have time to revise based on input. Your views would be much more respected if you were willing to put yourself in the same position as the board. Commitments with prerequisites here and provisions there just result in the same ol' same ol'. I hope you'll consider a more concrete direction. I'm done ... for the moment.
Bringin' Down Briarwood April 11, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Natalie: I haven't been in the community enough to know the editorial direction of the Patch, so excuse me if this is out of the realm of the Patch. However, i hope you'll help the community as a watchdog for E-1st and others who liberally used the phrase "We will get to work on a better plan on April 6." This was the centerpiece of their vocal campaign and they should be held accountable to the standards that they set. Otherwise, their campaign will have been a huge waste of the taxpayers money they are supposedly seeking to save. Yes, I look forward to a productive opposition - not simply empty rhetoric and opposition to ANY investment in the community.


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