The District 200 Facilities Referendum results were certified on Nov. 29. With 35,676 votes cast, the Yes side came up 28 votes short of a victory. After thoroughly investigating the options for a recount, the Vote Yes campaign committee decided not to challenge the election results, which were, essentially, a tie broken by fewer than 30 voters.

We are heartened that there is broad support for a comprehensive facilities plan that includes a 40-meter pool that fully accommodates physical education and extracurricular needs, invests in new and renovated space for the performing arts, builds new boys PE locker rooms, pilots more efficient use of existing classroom space, and preserves on-campus parking. We draw this conclusion not only from the 17,824 “yes” votes, but also from the thousands of voters we talked to on front porches and at community events. When people understood the actual plan and its actual costs, a substantial majority was supportive.

Unfortunately, many people we spoke with were confused by the blatantly false and misleading information being peddled by the anti-referendum campaign (about cost, potential savings, pool size, parking, and alternate plans, among others). There were also, of course, people who accurately understood the project and still planned to vote no, but their reasons for voting that way were diverse and often mutually exclusive. For example, some felt the D200 board was spending too much of the school’s cash reserves while others felt the board was spending too little of those reserves. 

The upshot is that there was no mandate, no consensus, against a comprehensive facilities plan. There will be those who will claim that they know what “no” voters wanted, but they will do so to forward their own political agendas. Our campaign, on the other hand, systematically asked voters and found no consensus at all among “no” voters.

So what is next? The District 200 board will, as promised, go back to the drawing board to determine how they can address the many facilities challenges facing OPRF High School. They will spend months in meetings and tens of thousands of dollars finding yet another solution to those challenges. That’s time and money that could have been better spent on other issues facing the school. 

Meanwhile, supporters of the Vote Yes campaign will continue to monitor the process, share our insights from front porches, and work to build excellent facilities for our outstanding high school. We remain committed to supporting OPRF and its students.

We would like to thank the citizens of Oak Park and River Forest for listening as we made our case. And we’d like to thank the dozens of canvassers, scores of donors and volunteers, and hundreds of supporters who gave so generously of their time and treasure to educate voters during the Vote Yes campaign. Your work was essential to combatting misinformation and helping voters understand the real facilities plan. In the event that the D200 board opts for another referendum, we hope we can count on your support again. 

Thank you.

The Vote Yes D200 Facilities Referendum Committee consists of Ben Campbell, Lisa Colpoys, Wayne Franklin, Lynn Kamenitsa, Matt Kosterman, Mary Anne Montgomery, Ellen Pimentel, Peter Ryan, and Karen Steward-Nolan.

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