I am a parent of one (and soon to be two) elementary school students, and am writing in support of the District 97 referendum. To me it's a pretty simple issue: We can pay now, or pay more later.
I have heard the argument that Oak Park schools need to do more with less. This strategy, at best, will maintain the status quo. We need to invest more, and expect more. The current national standard for evaluating school performance is annual yearly progress, and District 97 has achieved this progressively increasing benchmark since it was instituted. District 97 is a high-performing school district, and we don't want to lose that momentum. We need to hold our administrators, teachers and school board accountable for the continued — and increasing — success of our students and schools.
I have heard the argument that increasing taxes for District 97 will discourage people from moving here. To the contrary, shortchanging our schools will be a deterrent for families looking for a home, and it will also cause current families to move out.
I have heard the argument that the timing for this referendum (which amounts to an additional $38 per $1,000 in paid property taxes) couldn't be worse. I agree. But not passing District 97's proposed referendum will have significant, long-term consequences for our public school students, our property values and the overall vitality of our community.