'Jaw dropping' that biz leaders urge no vote

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I take it personally that the Business and Civic Council is recommending a no vote for the District 97 referendum [Business leaders urge no vote on referendum, Viewpoints, March 23]. Ask any of my neighbors what shopping bags I carry into my house. No Costco ... haven't even been there! Rarely Target. Not eating out in Bucktown.

We bought our house for one single reason: Oak Park schools. But if I'd have known that our kids weren't going to have an art teacher (good grief! I had an art teacher in rural Indiana in the 1970s), or a librarian on duty to serve 450 kids and six grades, or play the oboe with Mr. Greco (this man is a saint), or learn Spanish in the best years for language, or that my child would be one of 30-plus kids in an overwhelmed classroom, we can guarantee we'd have chosen another part of Chicago.

I have been buying local for 10 years — supporting all the local businesses I can with the many expenses of renovating an old home, feeding a family and raising a couple of busy kids. Educational reform, teacher pensions, union negotiations ... these conversations should rage on. And hats off to District 97 board members who are doing the hard work with these issues — most of which are beyond their immediate control.

I find it jaw-dropping that the BCC would recommend villagers stomp away in a tax huff from the problem-solving table to force District 97 to strip our children's school down to a radically compromised school experience. It is the first time I have been genuinely and thoroughly annoyed in Oak Park. It will take some time for this shopper to cool off.

Shop local and support local businesses? Even after what the BCC said? Yes, because I'm not going to stomp off in a huff. Support Oak Park Schools? Absolutely. Vote yes.

Margaret Jeschke
Oak Park

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Reader Comments

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Posted: April 5th, 2011 1:22 PM

Personally, I found the list, referenced by the BCC, of the seventy some D97 employees raking in over $100K a year to be the more jaw-dropping revelation.


Posted: April 5th, 2011 12:58 PM

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective, Margaret! I, too, focus the bulk of my commerce in the 60302-4 region and take personal offense to the BCC's choice not to support the education of its community.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 31st, 2011 7:17 AM

I have asked for the ROI analysis for the ipad purchases & have not received them. D97 sent me the invoices for the ipads & the cost of the software, so I know how many they bought. They did not answer my question as to why they purchased the ipads when the software was available via a laptop (which the admins have). Saves time & $? Why didn't D97 provide any evidence? As a Software Product Mgr for 15 yrs I have implemented tech into orgs spending millions. YOU ALWAYS PERFORM ROI analysis.

No vote  

Posted: March 31st, 2011 6:51 AM

D97 has a well-known history of chasing technology. Teaching children the fundamentals is much more important than fly by night technology.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 31st, 2011 12:49 AM

The BCC takes D97 to task for allowing a $5 million deficit to develop after 20 years of costs outstripping the CPI while revenues were capped by the CPI. But the increasing tax burden that BCC deplores has actually been the result of the voracious business community, not D97. Where was the BCC when the Village plowed $5 million into heated sidewalks for the new Marion Street? But a $5 million deficit after 20 years of no revenue increases in real dollars is unacceptable?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 31st, 2011 12:39 AM

Tom Scharre, it your tax increase will be $700, that means you own property worth over a $1 million. How many teachers do you think can afford a million dollar house?


Posted: March 30th, 2011 2:08 PM

Are you saying the stats aren't accurate? Because that is what you are implying. Maybe you don't like the portal that provides the stats. I don't know/side/care about J. Roeser. It's the public information provided by IBSE that resides there I'm interested in. Do you have an easier lookup? Be happy to use it.

To Conflicted  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 1:14 PM

The BCC statement actually calls for hurting our schools to teach them a lesson--they say D97 needs "shock therapy." I think D97 needs to economize but we shouldn't hurt them on purpose! Also note their stats come from a site funded by Jack Roeser, an anti-tax zealot who doesn't give a damn about our school system as long as his political team wins. Finally, remember that only a few members of the BCC signed that statement. It doesn't speak for all local merchants or even all of the BCC.

John Anderson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 1:12 PM

chet21..."HOWEVER, "emotional" is 75% of the campaign for the YES side" Wow. Really? Yes there are a lot of emotions when it comes to school AND taxes. Both sides can share a lot of blame but 75% huh. If we borrow the "giving a drink to a drunk" or "holding a gun to our heads" or "blackmail" or "sweat off the backs of the taxpayers" or "feed the beast" or "clawing back salaries" maybe we could get closer to 100%.

To Conflicted  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 1:07 PM

$380 might be a bargain compared to some alternatives. The "good schools" rep is a major engine for our real estate mkt. If are schools are just so-so, what happens to property values? I bet they drop more than $380 a head. I think of taxes as pooling our money to increase our buying power. I can't afford a park but I don't mind chipping in for them: I get the park and a boost to my equity. Same goes for school extras-cheaper than retail and boosts home values whether or not you have kids.

to Chet  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 12:52 PM

Excuse the mistakes in my posting and I mean this with respect to you because I know you aren't bashing teachers. But it's important to note that their day does not end at 3 or 3:30 and it doesn't end all summer.

to Chet (cont)  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 12:50 PM

students want to come to school and be eager to learn based on the look of the classroom. That sounds silly but it isn't. Teachers come into school buildings all summer to decorate, plan, and get their rooms ready for our students. Yes, they have time off -- not going to deny that -- but there is a payoff. They will never make millions, they will never get bonuses, but they sure do inspire a lot of children. I just don't buy the teachers don't work enough theory.

to Chet  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 12:47 PM

Chet, I am fairly certain that you know some teachers in the area (I've read many of your posts) so my comment to Undecided about teachers working more than 9 months is one I stand by. First, teachers are always thinking about teaching and their students. They read articles and keep up to date with latest teaching methods. They talk with other teachers about methods and ways to teach. And also, they think about how to use their classroom through decorations how to make it inviting to make


Posted: March 30th, 2011 12:23 PM

How outdated? Within 12 months? That is what those numbers represent 2010 data and is as up to date as you can get b/c 2011 hasn't concluded. I think the only way this forum could get current numbers is to ask some of our fellow posters.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 12:08 PM

@to Undecided: "Secondly, teachers work more than 9 months, and work very hard for our students." I agree with the latter, but not with the former. The contract is for 180 days. That's 36 weeks/8 months. Do they sometimes work on weekends/evenings? I'm sure, like the rest of salaried/self-employed people, they do. But, c'mon, add 4 wks for pre-school, etc. and so 40 weeks compared to 48-50 weeks for the rest of us? Add in nice salary, benefits and retiring with a full pension at 57. Inaccurate?

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 11:57 AM

@D97 Mom. Ipads are minor and, yes, emotional. I've never mentioned them because they are, to me, trivial. HOWEVER, "emotional" is 75% of the campaign for the YES side. Armageddon of $5M in cuts to CAST/BRAVO/MUSIC/ART, etc is proposed SOLELY for "emotion." Why is this high sum threatened when $17M in savings on 6/30/11 is available to D97 - only $3M less than 2 prior years? Vote NO, start review and reform. If more $ is needed, new ref can be on ballot in 2012.

to Undecided  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 11:40 AM

Have you checked the website of the organization you are referencing? First, all the people mentioned in the article no longer work for the district (the teachers have retired and the superintendent moved on). I would think a group could include up-to-date info instead of outdated information. Secondly, teachers work more than 9 months, and work very hard for our students. And the Chicago Tribune article has already been discussed as being inaccurate.


Posted: March 30th, 2011 11:27 AM

Please read to maintain some balance here. I am leaning toward no but my husband is leaning yes. http://www.ntui.org/news-releases/taxpayers-oppose-huge-oak-park-school-district-97-property-tax-increase-referendum

D97 Mom from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 11:17 AM

"D97 is asking for more money while purchasing iPads for principals but cutting out the arts." The No side repeatedly mentions the iPads because they know it will produce an emotional reaction like this. But the truth is that the iPads were purchased (and there were far fewer purchased than the No side would have you believe) to reduce the man-hours and materials needed for a major review process. Overall, the iPads will result in savings of time and money.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 9:57 AM

Why does the $380/year chimera keep reappearing? Every case varies. In mine, using the $38 per $1000 formula - and my current tax bill - it amounts to almost $700. (Which will assuredly increase in the next taxing cycle when assessment ratios are recalculated.) And please don't tell me that only amounts to about $2 a day. I've already figured that out. And I didn't use an iPad.


Posted: March 30th, 2011 9:32 AM

Who said I was a supporter of Noel? My point is that I clip coupons to feed my family while D97 is asking for more money while purchasing iPads for principals but cutting out the arts. Do you see why that might annoy me? Their priorities seem a bit out of whack. I don't want our schools to be in the stone age, but I also don't think we need to follow every tech trend. Would some less expensive tablet not do the job? It is just one small example, but that's the scrutiny I give my own budget.


Posted: March 30th, 2011 9:12 AM

I am frankly fed up with the constant jabs at the addition of a technology tool (iPads) for doing an administrative job better. Mr. Kuriakos talks repeatedly about D97 needing to be a 21st century school district, but he and his supporters poke fun and derision at the fact that D97 actually purchased something from the 21st century. And the laptops for teachers? Same thing... I guess they should be working on slates with chalk.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 9:11 AM

@conflicted. My last post omitted one character: My 4th sentence should read: "Their problem is that they spend at CPI (plus). This "character" does not go thru on this site. So, to repeat. D97 obtains new revenue every year at CPI. Their problem is that they spend much more than this and their 5-yr "if the ref wins" projected budget has them increasing "salary/benefits" at 5% for each year. That's a major reason why they're broke & will need ANOTHER ref in 2016 or 2017. Pls consider voting NO.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 9:07 AM

@Conflicted. But you (and others) are buying the argument that it's "win" or "armageddon." But is it? D97 has "normal" revenue increases of CPI each year. Their problem is that they spend at CPI . If ref passes we are saying "alright" to D97 to this type of spending. Plus, they'll have $17M in savings at year-end-only $3M less than 2 prior years. Pt? Why are $5M "cuts" necessary? Ref "scare tactics" or ignorance of numbers? What about a 2-yr freeze? That'd save ART/Music, etc. Vote NO & reform.

@conflicted also  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 9:05 AM

I agree with you both - $380 is not a small amount but it is possible. Everyone has to assess their own situation and if you vote "no" because you can't afford a tax increase, that is totally understandable. However, to vote no to send a message is ridiculous. We need people involved all the time, not just at this very moment to defeat the referendum. The ipads are being thrown in time and time again just to throw off what is at stake here: Art, music, sports, Span, CAST/BRAVO. Don't be duped


Posted: March 30th, 2011 8:46 AM

Thank you!! $380 is not small change for my family! I clip coupons to save every dollar I can, and I have trimmed my family's budget to eliminate as much fat as possible. I am frustrated that my efforts mean nothing in the end . . . And though some would say I am saving to save the arts, I can't help feeling like I am saving so principals can have iPads. sigh . . .

To Conflicted  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 8:38 AM

cont. How schools are funded and how teachers are measured are valid points and questions. However, this referendum is not about those issues. Those are state and national issues that will need a lot of attention and work. We can board that bus and work on those issues but don't confuse things out of District 97's control with this referendum. Should we be a part of that solution? Absolutely. And hopefully everyone so passionate about this ref will be working on those issues in the future

To Conflicted  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 8:36 AM

Many people feel your sentiment and are debating the issues logically. I don't feel that Noel presents much argument for the no side in that he is all over the place with his thoughts and "plans." Plus he definitely has an ax to grind although no one is sure about what or specifically to whom. The issue NOW is about how we want our schools to be. With music, art, Spanish or without? With a school secretary or not? With CAST and BRAVO at the middle schools? With middle school sports?


Posted: March 30th, 2011 8:29 AM

I am remain a conflicted voter. The comments illustrate my conflict. While Mr. Kuriakos is clearly has an ax to grind with teachers, seems to disdain the concept of collective bargaining, and presents as an closet tea bagger, additional taxation must and should be thoughfully discussed. Conversely, Margaret and D97 Mom are quite cavelier about spending other people's money ($380 is still a month of groceries, gas to get to work, and fees for skating, swimming, baseball, football, etc.).

A D97 Mom from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 6:58 AM

"Higher taxes will lower discretionary spending, especially in these economic times." Oh, please. For most of us, the "higher taxes" amount to about a dollar a day. I think we'll manage.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 30th, 2011 1:10 AM

Higher taxes will lower discretionary spending, especially in these economic times. With higher sales taxes & income taxes in IL, business will suffer. Higher local real estate taxes will only hurt OP business more. Just survey the empty store fronts & the business that have shuddered in the last four years. A vote NO will force D97 to face reality & make due with their close to 3% annual automatic increase in tax levies. More taxes are not going to increase learning outcomes.

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