I’m voting yes for the referendum because, public or not, education isn’t free. And it seems with education, like most things, you get what you pay for. I live in Oak Park for a variety of reasons; primary among those is that my children have the opportunity for an excellent public education.

I’m voting yes for the referendum because, in my son’s first two years at Irving Elementary School, he has had passionate, talented teachers who engage him, challenge him, and, most importantly, fuel his excitement for learning. He loves school and, in first grade, is already learning more about word structure (blends, diphthongs and digraphs) than I remember learning in all of my 20-or-so years of formal schooling.

My son’s favorite days, though, are the ones during which he has art and music classes. I’m voting yes on the referendum because I don’t want to tell him that next year there won’t be an art class anymore. I don’t want to tell him that, in fact, his magnificent art teacher has already had her position cut for next year. Only if the referendum passes will her position be reinstated.

I’m voting yes for the referendum because, when my daughter begins kindergarten two years from now, I hope to enroll her in a school with the same small class sizes, the same focus on each individual student, the same broad range of learning opportunities, in short, the same academic excellence that I have seen and now expect from District 97 elementary schools.

I’m voting yes for the referendum because this is not just a “schools” issue. It’s a community issue that affects quality of life and property values in Oak Park. It speaks to what we value as a community and how we choose to invest in our future, and our children’s futures.

Please understand that it is not easy for my family to pay our tax bill even now. I would love to eat out more often, or take a vacation, or replace our ancient, torn and stained sofa. Yet I also feel extremely fortunate to live in a community that understands the value of outstanding schools. I hope you will join me in voting yes for the referendum. What greater advantage can we give our children than a first-rate education and love of learning? Every child should have this opportunity.

Amy Struckmeyer
Oak Park

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