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League of Women Voters Endorses District 113 Referendum

The Highland Park-Highwood and Deerfield Area Leagues of Women Voters have endorsed District 113's referendum. Read why they endorsed this one and not the district's last attempt two years ago.

The Highland Park-Highwood and Deerfield Area Leagues of Women Voters have endorsed District 113's referendum, which ask voters to spend $89 million to renovate Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools.

In a blog post published on Patch last week, the League writes that the referendum meets League criteria, which includes "clear educational objectives reflecting the expectations and desires of the community and show the linkage between the objectives and the request for additional funding."

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The renovation plan includes getting rid of building C on Highland Park's campus and replacing it with new classrooms. The physical education facilities in building C would be replaced with a a small, three court gymnasium on north end of campus, according to Hainsfurther. The district would maintain the option to expand the gymnasium into a field house, but it wouldn't be required by the plan.

"We're excited that these buildings are going to be rebuilt," league president Barbara Lippai said.

The plan is projected to cost $114 million. Of that total, $25 million will come from the district's reserve funds and the remaining $89 million will come from District 113 residents.

If the referendum passes, District 113 residents who own homes valued at $300,000 will pay $173 in taxes to the district in levy year 2013, a $47 increase from levy year 2012. If the referendum fails, those same homeowners would only pay $15 in taxes to District 113 in 2014 because the District paid off a significant amount of its debt this year. The 10-year average price residents have paid to District 113 in taxes is $198 annually, according to District 113's financial advisor, Tammie Schallmo, with PMA Securities.

The League of Women Voters did not endorse the District's last referendum attempt two years ago, according to Lippai. 

"The criteria was not met the last time," she explained. "This time we felt we could support it wholeheartedly."

Lippai said she is excited that, if the referendum passes, Deerfield High School will become more accessible for people with physical disabilities. She also is looking forward to seeing new pools at both schools.

"I walk with a cane I could never make it to the top floor to where my daughter's language classes were," she said.

Criticisms about the referendum's cost and its goals continue to fly from other Patch readers and Deerfield and Highland Park residents. However, Lippai and the league are convinced that passing it is a good idea.

"We don't think anything they're doing here is over the top," she said. "We feel the district has thought this through."

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