Citizens of Oak Park and River Forest will vote on a high school facilities referendum in November. We urge you to vote yes to support continued excellence at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Here’s an overview of what this referendum will do for the school, its rationale and cost, and who will benefit from its passage:

The facilities plan will 1) meet the needs of growing performing arts programs with new spaces for band and orchestra, and expanded space for theater and choir; 2) construct new pilot classrooms to meet future enrollment growth within existing space. In this plan, three teachers maximize classroom efficiency by sharing two technology-enhanced classrooms and one office that provides privacy for meeting students; 3) replace antiquated boys’ locker rooms that cannot be brought up to health codes in their current locations; 4) build a garage that meets the school’s parking needs in less space and frees additional education space for students; 5) make space for all of the above improvements by building one modern, efficient pool to replace two crumbling, failing pools built in 1928. 

Though not required by law, the District 200 Board of Education is putting this bond measure before voters in response to a 2015 petition calling for a vote on a previous pool plan. The current plan addresses objections raised by citizens last time around. It considers multiple pool and non-pool facility needs in a comprehensive and coordinated fashion; it preserves garage parking; it builds a shorter pool that still meets PE, aquatics, and community needs; and it costs less than the 2015 plan budgeted for pool construction and space re-purposing.

The November ballot question seeks voter approval of a bond issue up to $25 million to be paid over 20 years. The board will also use $20 million in cash as part of a multi-year plan to reduce OPRF’s cash reserves. The entire facilities project will cost $44.5 million. None of us likes to pay more taxes, but in Illinois local taxes are the vehicle for investing in our schools and their excellence. This plan uses those tax dollars efficiently and responsibly by sharing the tax burden with future facilities users.

There is no other plan on the table or the ballot. There is no half-price, super-savings plan that meets the school’s needs, as some have claimed. Having looked at this from every conceivable angle over several years, the board has concluded that building one pool, outside of the school’s current footprint while preserving the outdoor athletic fields, is the only viable option to meet OPRF’s comprehensive facility needs.

We look forward to sharing more information about this investment that looks toward the future rather than rebuilding the past. Every student at OPRF High School will benefit from the improvements. We all will benefit from a comprehensive high school that will serve students today and tomorrow and will keep our communities strong and desirable. 

For more information, including a tax impact calculator, visit facilities.oprfhs.org and facebook.com/VoteYesD200.

The Vote Yes D200 Referendum Committee supports passage of the November pool referendum.

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