A nearly two-year effort of Township High School District 113 to work with the community to develop a master plan to renovate Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools may be swaying public opinion to the District’s side.
With the District 113 Board of Education set to vote at 7:30 p.m. today whether to submit an $89 million referendum to the voters to help fund the improvements, at least one person who opposed a $133 million ballot initiative two years ago has changed his mind.
Earlier: 113 Board Votes on $89 Million Referendum Monday
“I did not support the previous referendum,” reader Eddie Jacobs said. “The steering committee's recommendations to the school board were as a result of many hours of study, discussion, and analysis of the information provided from the professional firms hired by the board.”
The plan is not without its opponents. Sue Richman does not see a shift in public opinion since the last referendum. She would rather put the money into teacher compensation.
“The community doesn't support the School Board's desire to spend the money on its new pools and other extravagant proposals,” Richman writes. “Education outcomes have very little to do with dollars expended.”
Another reader, Tripp Hainsfurther, considers investment in new swimming pools and other aging infrastructure a necessary expenditure. Hainsfurther was one of the people involved in the community process offering input. He recognizes the need for facilities with a long life.
“The pools need to be replaced,” Hainsfurther writes. “They are over 40 years old and in very poor condition. Building C at Highland Park, which has two gyms, will be very expensive to preserve and put back into condition to meet the 25 to 50 year criteria for extending the life of the facilities. This makes it necessary to replace those gyms.”
Reader Phyllis Bagan disputes the District’s $114 million cost estimate. She fears it will actually be more. “This referendum is actually over $114 million,” she writes. “Let's not forget that reserves are taxpayer dollars. The other phases? Where is that information?”