Vote no to keep Oak Park economically viable

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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We are fortunate to live in a treasured, historic community. It is important to keep this village economically viable for everyone. Therefore, it is a matter of simple economics when it comes to voting for or against the District 97 referendum. As homeowners, we have recently endured an unprecedented downturn in housing values. We simply cannot afford to add another enormous increase to our already crushing property taxes.

Many people have lost jobs, taken pay cuts to keep their jobs or filed for bankruptcy due to the overspending of previous years. If we've learned anything from our current economic situation, it should be that sometimes we need to say no to spending money. Oak Parkers, this is one of those times. Just say "No."

Bob and Monica Klinke
Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 8:17 PM

@Interested Parent: My kids go to private school for personal reasons. My wife and I are very involved with the school (as are most of the parents), the admin, and the Board including the long-range planning cmte. Also, if our school were asking for an increase as large as D97's, we would ask the same tough questions. As taxpayers, we have every right to understand why D97 needs more $ especially because we understand what can be done with much less funding to deliver "Blue Ribbon" results.

@Interested Parent  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 7:07 PM

With all due respect, I don't see how your questions of Alan have anything to do with the referendum. Why would his personal choice to send his kids to a Catholic school concern you? By contrast, as a taxpayer, Alan has every right to ask these questions even if he doesn't have kids in a D97 school. You are right in that your questions suggest your own bias in the matter.

JennyWren from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 6:24 PM

I have already given up most of my discretionery spending thanks to OP tax increases that have far outstripped my salary increases. Oak Park is in no danger of losing property value because of awful schools, but because of deteriorating housing stock because people can't afford to repair their homes, and can't sell without losing tens-of-thousands of dollars. D97 and other OP entities all need to adjust their budgets to current econonomic realities like other nonprofits.

Interested Parent  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 5:27 PM

Alan - These are serious questions and hard to ask without sounding biased, but here goes: If D97 did all the detailed planning and transformation you are asking for, would you send your kids there or would they still go to Ascension? And, do you ask the same degree of detail and innovation from your Ascension leaders? If so, great. If not, why not?

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 5:06 PM

@Another No Vote: I agree with your comment. Teachers play the most important role in the education process and developing effective, and sustainable solutions only happens by collaborating with them over the long term. I'm opposed to this Referendum in large part because it doesn't address the serious issues that all districts face and just "kicks the can" further down the road. Which only raises taxes and delays real solutions. OP should be leading the charge here, not ignoring the issue.

Another No Vote  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 2:11 PM

There was no nastiness directed towards teachers in this letter to the editor& subsequent posts. I truly believe the teachers are the one positive in this equation and do appreciate their 1% pay freeze. What I don't appreciate is contracts negotiated by unions, o.k.ed by boards that don't keep a balanced budget year after year.

op parent  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 2:00 PM

I didn't start out pro-unions, but after this election and the nastiness I have seen leveled against teachers, I very clearly see the need for them in public schools! Yikes.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 12:31 PM

@ OP Resident. My 12;28 post was for the 9:01 version of "OP Resident" - apparently not the 12:24 one. However, I'll take a reply from any of the 50,000 OP Resident(s) who live here Thanks!

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 12:28 PM

@OP Resident. "Overspending? Tell that to the people who have had their programs reduced/cut." I keep reading about "programs reduced/cut" but I'd be grateful if you told me what they actually were? All I know is that D97 NEVER reduced spending - they just kept spending more and more. So, what was "reduced/cut"? Wasn't M-C Dept - I did read about "reduced/cut" for staff travel, paper clips and the "asst to the asst" in administration - but obviously that didn't affect the classroom. What then?

OP Resident  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 12:24 PM

Sorry, Im Just Sayin'. You've got me confused with the other folks posting as OP Resident. I'm voting YES. The only comment I posted on this subject was in response to Question's question re: what government does better than the private sector. It's tough sometimes to figure out who is who on this forum.

ImJustSayin' from OP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 12:00 PM

@OP Resident: No, I don't know you, but judging by your comments posted here, it seems you're intolerant. I don't know the Kilnkes, but they may have many good reasons to vote NO besides the fact (?) that they pay private school tuition. And they didn't say "district 97 overspending"....they seem to be referring to overspending in the broader culture in general. Sensitive much? You're the one making their comment a slam on D97 when it wasn't intended that way. You're the laughable one.

Another No Vote  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 9:19 AM

How does the budget/tax levy increase over 60% in the last 10 years, OP Res? How do year over year budget increases result in the "cuts" you are talking about. D97 is getting more money every year. What 'cuts" could there be if you get more money every year and still deficit spend? If there are cuts it is because D97 is providing fewer services while collected more taxes thus not managing the money they have well for the sake of the children.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 9:01 AM

Overspending? Tell that to the people who have had their programs reduced/cut. There have been budget cuts every year for the past several years. Maybe Mr. or Mrs. Klinke should have run for school board (along with Noel) so they can all put their financial expertise to work in a positive way.

The End is Near  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 9:01 AM

Tuesday evening can't come soon enough!

Another No Vote  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 8:46 AM

@OP Resident: D97's tax levy has increased every year thus impacting everyone's overall tax bill - no one is against increases for rising costs. The extra spending in this economy is not justifiable when D97 HAS gotten more money year after year while maintaining a status quo on over-spending - it is like someone who has rung up their credit card and now they are looking to re-fi their home to pay for their spending. Vote no to stop the insanity.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 8:20 AM

It appears to me that the Klinkes are judging other people's situation when they are blaming District 97 for other people's bankruptcy and losing jobs. That's almost laughable considering D97 has not contributed to anyone's higher taxes in years. And the reality is that the extra money this family spends on tuition would easily cover this increase. It's their choice on how to spend their money and where to send their kid to school but don't pretend that doesn't play into their vote.

Another No Vote  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 7:41 AM

WHY should the Klinke's mention their choice to send their children to a parochial school-that is not what their letter is about. It is about the fiscal mis-management that has brought D97 to this referendum & 10 YEARS of escalating taxes that many no longer, in this economy, can afford. I think it is intolerable to KEEP bringing up the private vs. parochial line -ALL pay property taxes. No one should assume they know someone's finances & don't judge until you've walked in someone elses' shoes.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 7:18 AM

You don't know me, ImJustSayin so you have no idea my beliefs. I am not anti-Catholic (how do you know I am not Catholic??) or anti-private school. But it is their choice and it is odd to me that the Klinkes don't mention that in their letter on why to vote no. I know many people who send their kids to private schools and I understand that decision. But don't pretend when you are voting that the fact that you pay private tuition makes you not want an increase in your taxes. Bottom line

ImJustSayin' from OP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 5:54 AM

@Shameful Hypocrites&OP Res: With your anti-Catholic rhetoric, when you say "this is about teaching OUR children" it sounds more like "teaching MY children." You're angry about people who make a different choice than you...that's called intolerance. I'll spend my time at Mass today praying for you and your children to find peace. I will also donate money to several charities who need it. Dist97, however, is NOT a charity. Also, my taxes do not necessarily reflect my values. Peace to you.

yeppers  

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 12:02 AM

"if there were ... fewer policemen to keep us safe, would we also be ok with that...?" There *are* fewer cops, as well as fewer firefighters, in OP because of budget constraints due to the bad economy. Why should teachers be any different?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2011 11:36 PM

Though my wife and I went to parochial grammar and high school, we sent our three children to public schools. We had no regrets. I have never criticized anyone who chose to pay for private school. It is a choose that they made. The choice could not have been easy. They pay tuition to the private school and pay for public school via their property tax. I also know that all kids in private schools are not from rich families. Many families make amazing financial sacrifices for their choice.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: April 2nd, 2011 11:19 PM

No one is disputing the importance of Ed & quality of schools. No one disagrees that GREAT teachers should be paid more. But the current comp sys of D97 does not reflect that. It seem logical then that in times financial constraints we need to rationalize pay practices since they comprise 80% of the costs. How can we pay teachers just for tenure when perhaps we can hire two teachers for the same amount? Or use the $ to increase learning outcomes. Tough times means reigning in costs.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 2nd, 2011 11:02 PM

It is a rough time economically but if there were fewer doctors to take care of our sick, or fewer policemen to keep us safe, would we also be ok with that because perhaps the village overpaid the policemen or as we all know, docs make a ton of money. Should we not consider the importance of education & quality schools because some people are having a tough time economically (and don't think I am not one of them). The Klinkes should be honest why they oppose the ref--they pay private tuition.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: April 2nd, 2011 10:50 PM

Nobody disagrees that good teachers should be paid well. The current comp sys at D97 does not reflect that. Measurable & verifiable metrics on teaching effectiveness & learning outcomes are used in teacher evals. Teachers get automatic pay increases because of tenure. How can a dist with great teachers have four failing schools as measured by IL's AYP? How can teachers in these failing schools get raises? A vote NO will change this. It will force D97 to comp teachers based on merit.

Another No Vote  

Posted: April 2nd, 2011 10:43 PM

This is about operating within the budget you knowingly have to work with and public trust of the management of taxpayer funds. It's not about public or private schools as a choice IT IS about years of deficit spending by the board and administration which resulted in their current financial "crisis". This is not about the students, the teachers, the parents, the taxpayers and certainly not about the school you choose to send your children to. public or private.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 2nd, 2011 10:05 PM

This is about TEACHING OUR CHILDREN. Granted, you have chosen to use your funds to send your kids to private school. The reality is that not everyone can afford to do that or that we should do that. So in order to keep our schools of great quality, vote yes. Teachers deserve good pay if we want quality teachers, and we want to be lead by good administrators. It's a fallacy that the tuition paid by private school parents is what is spent to educate those children.

Numbers  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 4:36 PM

On the CAOP webpage is a new graph showing "startling" data about overspending by D97. The title line indicates increases by "10 times." Noel, please explain the numbers you used and how a 38% increase in operating costs/pupil from 2000 to 2009 equals "costs rising 10 times." You can't just compare the enrollment increase and your 64% cost number (6%x10). Apples to oranges, but it sure looks scary (and misleading). The CPI increase was 29%, so the MS costs were a big part of the extra increase.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 2:20 AM

That's a popular question, Question. I think we agree that Government protects the quality of air, water and food. And preserves our wetlands and forests. It's funny how Americans have always been suspicious of Government. People have felt that way since we fought the Brits for our freedom. Of course, our governments do good things. Police and fire services are easy examples. Have you read "A People's History the United States" by Howard Zinn? An inspiring and tragic study.

Old Time Religion  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 8:48 PM

I attended Catholic grade school. In fact, my parents paid tuition for 5 children. In those days, the faculty was comprised of nuns. We had only 1 lay teacher. Of course, that was a half century ago. Where are the sisters for today's schools? Has there been a serious study published that examines the reasons for the dwindling number of women willing to commit to becoming a bride of Christ? I also attended a catholic boys high school. The faculty was more diverse but many teachers were priests.

Question from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 8:26 PM

Can anyone tell me one thing that government does better than the private sector? Certainly not education.

Bernadette Goldman from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 5:08 PM

There's a name for your outlandish and baseless posting: bullying. The difference between your sick diatribe and the name calling that occurs on school playgrounds is you hide behind the electronic courage of the internet. At least on the playground the defenselsess and different get to see their attacker. You should be ashamed of your cowardice. Here's an idea; try to push through another refernedum that lets thugs bully victims anonymously. You'd be good at that. The Klinkes are right.

done the research  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 2:46 PM

We spend the most, but don't get the best results. Check it out at: http://iirc.niu.edu/ Do the math and vote no.

Another Reason to Vote No from OP  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 10:53 PM

http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/metro/cook-county-tax-referendum-wrong-amounts-mistake-cost-20110322

Another No Vote  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 9:02 AM

Just to clarify how much your taxes will increase: taxes will increase by 6.5% if the referendum passes. It would increase by about 2.7% if it fails. The school will get an additional 2.7% no matter what. The question you need to ask yourself is do you think D97 has done a good job managing the money we already have already given and will continue to give through our tax dollars - I do not believe they have and will vote no.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 10:22 PM

@Oak Park Mom: I agree that we are all fortunate to live here in OP. And we are fortunate to have a community that supports public schools at a level (over $13,000/student) that is in the top 1% of funding in the state. That's more than 60% over the per student amount funded in Maywood, so we are not really in danger of falling that far if ref doesn't pass. The Klinkes support the WHOLE community of Oak Park and want to keep it viable and affordable for all families. VOTE NO.

Oak Park mom voting yes  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 7:54 PM

Yes, we are fortunate to live in this unique corner of the world. Let's KEEP our property values and enhance what we have here by supporting our schools. Any real estate agent will tell you: it's about having great local schools. (Maywood is full of great historical buildings of architectural significance - but without great schools, it doesn't add up to maintaining home prices.) Vote YES to keep Oak Park economically viable.

LanceManion from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 6:49 PM

@ shameful - Catholic school is worth the extra cost to keep one's kids away from people such as yourself. I imagine you are also the type who argues separation of church and state so that the Klinkes cannot use their tax dollars to send their children to a Catholic school, but instead are forced to not only pay for value-based education, but also subsidize your education expenses. OP being as progressive as it is should institute a voucher system.

Another No Vote  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 6:37 PM

@shameful hypocrites: This is about a double dip tax increase in a financially tenuous time for everyone. The D97 tax take is due to increase whether or not the referendum passes. The referendum is asking for an additional 3.8 percent - so we are all on the hook to pay more taxes whether your children go to a public or private school - the Klinke's are in fact paying twice - so back off and stop trolling!

Seriously, who's shameful?  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 6:31 PM

So you want a catholic education. Start by eliminating 30% of your teachers salaries, then raise your test scores significantly, then have 100% of your parents show up for parent teacher conferences, Don't forget to put your children in a school uniform and require them to treat their teachers with respect. It's very easy. The Klinkes have donated a public school education by paying to attend private school and you have the gall to attack their character.

@Shameful Hypocrites  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 5:56 PM

I hope you realize that every OP family that sends their kids to catholic school saves D97 $13000 per child. The OP catholic school that my kids attend is hardly filled with wealthy families. We have kids of firemen and teachers, among others. And our school doesn't have all the bells and whistles that D97 wants (like smartboards and iPads). No need to be rude to people expressing an opinion.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 5:53 PM

@Shameful Hypocrites: You apparently know the Klinkes. I do not. So, your Catholic references are lost on me. But I am reminded of a saying I have heard from my Jewish friends, "Don't count other people's money." My goodness, these people wrote a letter-to-the-editor. That is not permitted? By the way, I am fairly certain Jesus Christ didn't use a screen name.

Shameful Hypocrites  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 5:43 PM

I find it ironic that you are wealthy enough to live in a huge Oak Park home, and send your children to private Catholic schools, but not wealthy enough to put your religious values into action by helping provide to less wealthy children what you feel your children are entitled to. Where are your Catholic values? I do not recall greed being a part of Christ's teachings. Think about that while you sit smugly in church this Sunday.

Wendy  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 1:17 PM

Couldn't agree more - thank you.

Well put  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 7:28 AM

Thank you Monica and Bob-nicely said!!

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