After yet another failed referendum, it was our hope that our school district would work collaboratively with the community to develop a plan for our schools that would provide all our children a 21st century education in an equal, efficient, and affordable way.
It turns out we were being naïve. Days after the community rejected the unfair, wasteful, and unaffordable District 86 referendum, the district’s second straight failed referendum and the only November school referendum to fail in all of Chicagoland, they were already working to put yet another referendum on the ballot without ever engaging the public to develop a new plan that aligned with the community’s wishes. They then took the appalling step of taking away our children’s athletics and activities, holding them hostage unless we vote to pass their $140,000,000.00 tax increase in April.
This isn’t the way to work together with your community to solve the problems our schools face. Rather than working with us to address our very serious and reasonable concerns, the district is resorting to Chicago-style political scare tactics to ram through a $140,000,000.00 tax increase, which will cost us over $208,000,000.00 million with interest. District 86 can do better.
Like the last one, this referendum exacerbates the inequality that exists in our schools. The district has finally admitted to this inequality, and while we applaud this small step our children deserve concrete action not just lip service. In our district, not every child receives an equal education. Students attending Hinsdale Central have access to a more progressive and rigorous curriculum with increased choices, while for many subjects at Hinsdale South students are given fewer and narrower course choices and in some courses, multiple grade levels are packed into a single classroom. This is unfair. All our students deserve an equal education regardless of where they live or the color of their skin.
This referendum is also just as wasteful as the previous one. Yet again, it funds multiple projects that the community has already rejected, including brand new pools at Central and South for $24,343,066.00 when the district’s own life safety audit showed the existing pools could be repaired for under $2 million. Other frivolous spending includes a new counselling center at Hinsdale Center costing $15,275,00.00 and Astroturf for sports fields costing $2,301,600.00. It also funds further expanding Central to deal with overcrowding while South is significantly under-populated and has plenty of space for additional students.
We can’t afford to be wasteful with taxpayer dollars while our taxes go up considerably every year. District 86 has played a significant role in our property taxes skyrocketing. Every year they hike taxes by the maximum amount allowed by law. Now they want another $140,000,000.00, raising our taxes for the next 21 years, a total of $5,940.27 in additional property taxes for families in a $500,000.00 fair market value home. This would be the single-largest property tax increase this area has ever seen and will continue to weaken our property values. When will it be enough?
Don’t let the district scare you into voting for this referendum. While they claim it is for safety and security, on their own website they admit that only $5.7 million will be spent towards “Safety and Security.” The district has already taken care of many of the urgent life safety needs in recent budgets and has the authority to secure funding for these projects without a referendum. And if we take them at their word that they need $42 million in security, safety, and accessibility improvements over the next six to seven years, why didn’t they put that affordable option on our ballots instead of a bloated $140,000,000.00 referendum?
The idea that the district would hold our children’s athletics and activities hostage to force us to vote for a tax increase is unconscionable. They’re demanding we pass a $140,000,000.00 on referendum to fund $42 million in needed improvements so the school board will give our children back $1.2 million in athletics and activities. The math doesn’t add up. And this is from the people that are supposed to be educating our children.
We can do better. We must VOTE NO on the unfair, wasteful, and unaffordable District 86 referendum. Then we can finally work together as a community to provide all our children a 21st century education that is equal, efficient, and affordable.