River Forest
Well over 300 people gathered in the North Gym at Roosevelt Middle School on Sunday to rally behind a proposed March 21 property tax referendum. The rallying cry for the referendum, say campaign organizers, is the continuation of a tradition of educational excellence that they say will be irreparably harmed should the referendum fail.

If passed, the referendum would raise the tax rate assessed on residential properties to $3.27 per $100 of equalized assessed value, up 27.5 cents from the previous rate of $2.995. That represents a substantial increase on the River Forest property tax burden. But proponents, whose campaign slogan is “First class schools for a first class community,” say that superior”not just quality”education is the major attraction for people moving to River Forest.

“We want River Forest residents to understand the issues and what’s at stake for our kids and our community,” said Amy McCormack, co-chair of the 125-member ad hoc Preserve River Forest Schools group.

With banners showing River Forest school kids engaged in science, art and music classes, McCormack, co-chair Kay Foran, school board members, teachers, administrators and other referendum supporters urged their audience to get out support for the March 21 referendum. While celebrating the school district’s excellence, organizers made it clear that they weren’t going to take support for granted.

“Based on previous referendum experience, we need 2,500 votes,” Foran told those assembled. She urged those in attendance to commit to work to gain their neighbors’ support for the referendum effort.

“There’s not a school district I can talk about that offers its students an opportunity to achieve and experience as River Forest does,” said District 90 Supt. Marlene Kamm. She recited a long list of academic accomplishments that she said places the school district at the top of Illinois school districts by any measurement. Foremost among those accomplishments is Dist. 90’s ranking as the number one school district out of 866 districts in the state, and ranking among the leaders in each of the past 12 years.

Kamm said the district’s academic excellence is achieved through “differentiated instruction” that is tailored to the needs of each child in the River Forest system.

McCormack acknowledged that many people will get more intensely involved within the last three weeks of the campaign. Still, she was pleased with the start of the process Sunday.

“We’re delighted with the turnout,” she said. “It’s evidence of the commitment that our parents have [to the schools].”

Pro-referendum forces plan three public forums over the next three weeks, beginning with one in the Lincoln School Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 16.

The other two will be held Thursday, March 2 at the Roosevelt School Auditorium, and Wednesday, March 8 at the Willard School Auditorium.

CONTACT: bdwyer@wjinc.com

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