Oak Park is a thriving and growing community thanks in large part to our excellent schools. But as student enrollment surges to a 40-year high and the state of Illinois fails to meet their funding obligations, our schools – Oak Park’s future – are at risk.
Despite years of aggressive budget constraints, our K-8 District 97 schools will need to make dramatic cuts – especially to teachers and staff – if they don’t receive new funding right now.
This April, we have an opportunity to vote YES on two vital referenda to preserve the high quality of our schools, while minimizing tax burdens. These referenda focus your tax dollars on what our students need most – great educators and safe, accessible, productive buildings.
What are we asking for?
We are asking you to vote YES and YES to support school funding on your April 4th ballot.
YES! for education and classrooms.
YES! for safe and accessible buildings.
The first yes is to support an operating funds referendum for $13.3 million to directly fund education that will cost you $74 per $1,000 of your current tax bill. The second yes supports a referendum for safe and accessible schools through $57.5 million of school building bonds that will renew existing debt and have no impact on your tax bill.
Why do we need these referenda right now?
Our schools have been aggressively working to manage deficit spending through cost saving measures and finding additional revenue streams. These cuts have been kept as far away from the kids as possible.
Despite these best efforts, a surging student population and inadequate state funding means our district needs additional revenues now to avoid catastrophic cuts over the next few years.
What happens if the referenda don’t pass?
Our district will need to balance extensive budget cuts and necessary building maintenance in the coming school years. Exactly what cuts are made depends on which of the referenduma fail. Unless both referenda pass this April, immediate impacts could include:
• An elimination of 1/5 of staff within two years
• Trailer classrooms to accommodate growing number of students
• Increased class sizes
• Students would be assigned schools based on grade level rather than where they live
For more details about the referenda, you can visit the D97 website at http://www.op97.org/d97referenda/