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Supporters, Opponents of D. 31 Referendum Face Off at Polls

Campaigners from both sides stood outside polling sites outside Field Middle School and Mission Hills Country Club on Tuesday afternoon.

Supporters and opponents of ’s property tax referendum spent hours outside in 85 degree sun Tuesday afternoon, trying to try sway voters last-minute.

Outside , referendum supporters Debbie Oberman and Marisa Boffa held signs and flagged down anyone walking into the school’s auditorium, which serves as a polling site.

“This school district needs for this to pass,” said Oberman, who has one child in the district and graduated from Field Middle School herself.

“I want my child to have what I had growing up.” 

The $1.8 million property tax referendum on this year’s ballot . After , District 31 .  Even so, the district’s 2012-13 budget falls short, given mounting costs as more students qualify for state-mandated English language classes, $1.35 million in necessary “life safety” repairs for its aging buildings, and , according to Superintendent Alexandra Nicholson.  

Nicholson has said that if this referendum fails, over the next two years to avoid going bankrupt. That could include eliminating a fine arts teacher, a social worker, and all school funding for extracurricular programs. 

“There’s a huge disparity with this school district and the three surrounding,” said Meg Sauser, another referendum supporter who had posted herself at Field Middle School. She was concerned about the extent not just of the cuts that could be made, but of the ones that had already been made—including her son’s former honors geometry teacher. 

“My daughter, who’s in the seventh grade, doesn’t get the benefit of having Mrs. Flank,” she said. 

Opponents of the referendum say they believe it’s a particularly bad time to raise taxes, given the state of the economy. A man standing next to a “Vote No” sign outside Field said he preferred not to give his name, because he is unemployed, but that he believed taxes are too high in general.  

District 31 parent Sharon Gould, who was heading into Field to vote, said she was voting no because she believed Field Middle School was not doing a good job educating her daughter. 

“I would not pay extra for this school,” she said, adding that she believed it was a personnel issue, not a matter of financial need.

But fellow parent Paul Eisenstadt said he didn’t understand how residents could vote no. He said that if voters don’t pass the referendum and District 31 runs out of money, eventually the state would be forced to consolidate it, and property taxes would go up anyway. District 31 currently has the lowest property taxes of any school district in Northbrook or Glenview. 

‘If you vote no, the district’s going to dissolve,” he said. “I’m just not understanding what the no people are thinking.”

Parent Margaret Grouzard said she supported the referendum in part because she was concerned about property values. 

“There’s no reason why, after never having a permanent referendum passed after 30 years, that this shouldn’t pass,” she said. “People are not educated fully with all the details. If they were, they would not be opposed.” 

Outside —where the referendum has notoriously met the most opposition—many voters trickling in and out of the polling site inside declined to talk to Patch.

One man, who was parked just outside the club’s front doors, said he did not want to provide his name because he was concerned about being harassed. He said he had been sitting outside the club since 8 a.m., not to campaign, but to make sure that referendum supporters did not get too close to the polling place. By law, anyone campaigning outside a polling place must stay 100 feet away from the entrance. 

A Mission Hills resident, the man said he opposed the referendum because he believed it was a permanent fix to a temporary problem. 

“It’s going to hurt everybody,” he said. “There’s a community here of senior citizens that are having a hard time.”

District 31 parent and referendum supporter Loren Schyman was also stationed at Mission Hills. Looking sunburned, she said she had been standing outside since 8:30 a.m. and had met a surprising number of supporters.

Still, she said, she wasn’t sure how the election would turn out.

“It’s going to be really close,” she said.

 

 

 

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