Predicting The Referendum

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By John Hubbuch

It's not easy to predict the outcome of a referendum. There is no sophisticated periodic polling like in a state or national election. Newspaper and civic organization endorsements just aren't that influential.                                                     

District 97's referendum takes place on April 5th and there are no other important elections. District 200 is uncontested, and the VMA juggernaut will roll over the hapless unaffiliated candidates. Turnout will be low. That's good for passage. I was on the Board of District 97 and our referendum got more votes than any prior referendum ever. Unfortunately, that election took place in November 1988 which was a presidential election, and we lost by 10,000 votes.

There are a lot of yard signs in support of the referendum, and there are hardly any signs in opposition. That's because lot's of 'No" voters are embarrassed to not support the education of little kids. It's hard for them to look  their neighbors in the eye and tell them  saving a couple of hundred dollars is worth whacking their kids ' education.  That's why  pre-election canvassing is not very reliable. People tell the canvasser they are a "Yes" and then vote "No" under the protection of the Australian ballot.


The best chance for passage is to get all of  the parents, grandparents and close friends of school age children to vote "Yes", and pray for a foot of snow on April 5th.

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Arc Light  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 9:52 PM

"Nobody's being held hostage." Riiiight..... Hint: The TAXPAYERS.......

New perspectives please  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 10:06 PM

@chet21. Look, I said I'm sick of scare tactics from all sides. (I don't want to hear about "Oh the children! the children!") But I don't want scare tactics from the other side either. Nobody's being held hostage. We're being asked to vote on taxes. That's just democracy. Yay for democracy!

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 9:47 PM

@reichertpowell. What do you call it when D97 proposes $5M in program cuts - when they still have $17M in savings and an annual decline of only $3M from the 2 previous years? "Mathematically deficient?" No, they have a bus mgr, that's why I chose "scare tactics" or "holding our children hostage." I'd truly be grateful if you could come up with a better phrase to describe this promised action from D97 if the ref fails. If you vote no, then the OP community can have a better discussion on this.

CAOP - Voting NO  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 6:09 PM

Please keep in mind that D97 increased its tax levy by 50% from 1999 to 2009 while the CPI increased only about 1/2 that rate. Instead of controlling costs and increasing the fund instructional fund balance for the rainy days, they spent on admin & certified employee salaries, creating a unsustainable cost curve. Many other districts too proactive and preemptive measures to control their costs and now find themselves not having to cut core curriculum like music & the visual arts.

Another No Vote  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 5:18 PM

@New perspective please:As an Oak Park business owner when payroll wasn't able to be met, and it was several times this past year, there were no loans taken out - I as the business owner just didn't get paid - um that's reality.  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 5:04 PM

@LanceManion: Oh, I will certainly do my own research and make up my own mind. But I was under the (probably mistaken) perception that these discussion boards were a space for debate about public issues. I think your "holding hostage" metaphor is more alarmist than anything that D97 does, but I'm open to hearing from people who would actually like to persuade, rather than declare. And I haven't heard from any Yes voters yet . . . .


Posted: March 22nd, 2011 5:03 PM

Raising revenue is indeed one way of getting our house in order. And I did support the IL income tax increase because our rate was comparatively low. However, 4th of 46 in spending and 19th in wealth tells me that bringing our high expenditures in line with our limited tax base is a more appropriate way for Oak Park to get its house in order.

New perspectives please  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 5:00 PM

@LM has a point: There was this little thing called the bailout? But there's also the "commercial paper" credit market, right? I don't understand it fully, but it's all about extending short-term credit to companies for operating expenses? I'm not saying it's a good thing, but this "let's run govt like a business" thing people like to say doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you look at it in detail.

Mike Shafer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 4:39 PM

"District 97 is among the nine percent of Illinois public school districts (83 public school districts out of 869) that earned a 2010 Bright Red Apple Award from School Search, which is an educational research and consulting firm that publishes rankings of school systems. The award is based on five criteria: Academic Performance, Pupil/Teacher Ratio, Operating Expenditure Per Pupil, Educational Level of Teachers, Average Teacher Salary." Source: League of Women Voters.Oak Park, let's be pround of our Red Apple award, which apparently awards over spending and over compensating teachers.

Lance Manion has a point  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 4:28 PM

@new perspectives please: I know you may think that businesses take out loans for payroll all the time, but they really don't these days. My husband is a small business owner, and when times were tough last year, he had to lay off employees. He and a number of other employees also volunteered to take pay cuts (they haven't had pay increase in years so a freeze wouldn't have helped!) to save some jobs. It's a new economy.

LanceManion from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 4:18 PM

@ New perspectives - rather than expecting others to convince you, do your own research and make a determination on what's important to you. IF you think any budgetary increase above the 2.7% that is built in is necessary, then vote yes. If you think the 2.7% increase is sufficient and that D97 can live with that, then vote no. I happen to think that the D97 strategy is to hold kids and families hostage, and that alone is enough to vote no. But, there are other compelling reasons.

New Perspectives please  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 4:11 PM

@Lance: a swing and a miss. Same old, same old. And would a business take a loan to make payroll? Um, yes?! They do it all the time. But more important, public schooling isn't a business, it's a contributor to the conditions under which businesses flourish. @TellingItLikeItIs--better, but still not convincing. You imply the jam we're in is totally of our own making, when part of it is the financial unreliability of our state. Raising revenue = getting our house in order?


Posted: March 22nd, 2011 3:48 PM

For rational perspective, I looked outside the district to see where we stacked up. Of 46 large elementary districts in Cook County, D97 is 4th in instructional expenditures per student and 19th in wealth (as determined by Equalized Assessed Property Value per student). To me it's about living within our means as a community. Source:

LanceManion from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 3:42 PM

New perspectives - How about this: District 97 living within its means? In any other business, if the revenue does not cover expenses, expenses must be cut. Here, salaries were negotiated based on revenue assumptions (i.e., state assistance). That assistance went away. There simply isn't the revenue to continue to provide salary rates that were negotiated. Would any other business take a long term loan so that it could continue to pay its employees? No, they'd cut wages. So should D97.

New perspectives please?  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 3:03 PM

I'd like to ask the crowd here for two things: 1. An argument for voting YES that doesn't rely on the moral suasion of "The children! think of the children!" and 2. An argument for voting NO that doesn't rely on EITHER anti-tax hysteria OR teacher-bashing. (Ad hominem attacks on your opponents = disqualification.) I don't find either of the two dominant modes of argument here convincing, and the elections coming up. I think there are others who feel like I do. Any takers?

CAOP - Voting NO  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:56 AM

Mr. Hubbuch, your community members have started to look at their neighbors in the eye by putting up Vote NO signs (more environmentally friendly than the YES ones). There is a silent majority and it is growing. We too have knocked on doors and passed out our literature (it is just the beginning). We want our community to know that this time they have neighbors who do care for the long term health of Oak Park and we are voting NO.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 4:21 PM

Apologies E. Jackson, meant that last one for JC :-)

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 4:20 PM

@ E. Jackson - With all dure respect, not sure what else to tell you. Hundreds of volunteers have spent the last two months trying to let everyone know about the referendum. There are yard signs on virtually every block in Oak Park with a website on it, we have nocked on thousands of doors and done about everything humanly possible to spread the word. You might not like the message but it is being spread far and wide.

to JC  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 4:15 PM

I also think you are trying to make this more than it is. The information is there --certainly more than the other issues on the ballot this time. If Dist. 97 sent a letter to all villagers, we would hear how unethical that was to "push" the referendum and the expense of it. If anyone doesn't understand or know about the referendum, it's because they have chosen not to learn about it. Just like voting for judges, if you want to research and be informed, you can. If not, that's a choice too.

Fair and Balanced? from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 3:38 PM

@EJackson & jasen: The faq is fine (I just re-read it) but far from unbiased. So I agree with jasen's point. And, of course the clear communication that you're planning to raise someone's taxes needs to be far and wide and constant. But, of course, that wouldn't benefit the district, would it?

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:33 PM

Feel free to peruse the FAQ about the referendum at your leisure - The Web site where this is located ( has been promoted a number of ways in recent months. However, don't feel "forced" to read it.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:31 PM

@JC - I would disagree that what your asking for can be put into a single paragraph. Also, there are very restrictive rules in Illinois about spending public funds to pass a referendum. What your asking for is purely informational but is none the less very difficult to provide without crossing the line as I am sure many would loudly protest if such a mailing took place. If you haven't looked already, has everything your looking for.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:27 PM

Agree to disagree.I also think citizens shouldn't be forced to "find out" key information on their own, but rather that key information should be readily available. The fact that there isn't a one-page summary of how the referendum will work, how much is needed, how much this will cost, and what other cost-saving measures have been considered, only suggests to me that those pushing the referendum don't want an informed elctorate. This can be summarized in a single paragraph, yet it hasn't.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:19 PM

Like I said, we'll just have to disagree on this one because I think you're trying to sensationalize a non-issue. The citizens of this village have historically done an outstanding job finding information/educating themselves about issues that matter to them and to the community.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:17 PM

Jassen, thank you. Now, all we need to do is to make sure that D97 and the Village either mail or hand deliver this, with a desription of the issues and how it will impact each voter, to the population of Oak Park. That would be the honest thing to do. But, I'm sure that the Village takes the position that you posting it on this web page constitutes adequate notice to voters.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:16 PM

@JC. "I am saying that the District 97 Board and the OP Board acted in bad faith, and the timing of all the actions regarding the referendum... underscores that point." I would suggest looking at any of the Board minutes which explain very clearly why the vote happened on January 18th. Ironically, had they finalized the referendum earlier, it would have been for a much larger number for taxpayers.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:13 PM

@JC Here is the link to the page with info on grace period registering.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:12 PM

No. I am saying that the District 97 Board and the OP Board acted in bad faith, and the timing of all the actions regarding the referendum, including the hearings, only underscores that point. The surveys conducted by D97 suggest an even split in the community on this issue. If the voting is a landslide in favor of the referendum, I doubt that a high percentage of the no voters changes their tune.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:12 PM

@JC - The final vote was on January 18th. Plenty of time to register given you can still register to vote right now. You have until March 29th to register and vote during the grace period.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:08 PM

So you are saying that people in Oak Park would have based their decision regarding whether or not to register to vote, not actually vote but register to vote, based on this referendum? They wouldn't have registered to vote for any other elected office or ballot issue such as village trustee, D200 board, Park District board, bundling electrical service? This is literally THE issue that determined voter registration? Interesting theory.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:58 PM

The discussion regarding the lack of money and the vote are two separate issues. The referendum was added to the April vote in late January/early February. A meeting in November, when they were talking about a bond issue, has nothing to do with the current referendum, which proposed to increase the tax base. As to voter registration, if people are waiting to have all information before they register to vote, releasing key info after registration does not put voters in that position.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:53 PM

@JC - even though I'm really sure what the voter registration deadline has to do with this, the last day to register was March 8. Prior to that, there were two board study sessions and a community forum about the referendum in November 2010; information about the issue disseminated by a number of community organizations; the resolution was passed a month and a half before the registration deadline; and there was a forum about it at Beye in February. Guess we'll just have to disagree on this one

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:37 PM

@ E. Jackson, yes, seriously. While the funding shortfall has been discussed at length, putting this issue on the April 5 card was rushed through at the last minute. Further, all of the public forums to discuss this occurred after the voter registration deadline. It isn't surprising that most who knew about the referendum were originally those in support. But, word is getting out, and those in favor of fiscal discipline, an informed electorate, and reasoned decisionmaking are becoming aware.

Another Dooper Voting No from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 11:17 AM

@Voting Yes: Yes, but I voted for the bond to re-build the middle schools, I've watched the amount I pay to D97 rise substantially, and I've lived through the district financial scandals. I teach my kids to value the arts and education, but I don't expect others to foot the bill. A song we sing at home provides needed perspective: "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need." It's time for D97 and parents to come to terms with want vs. need.

One more Dooper voting NO from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:55 AM

I'll take Mr Hubbuch one further...there are folks I know who place Yes yard signs on their lawns but STILL plan to vote NO. The signs were placed against their will but they don't want to take them down. Also, don't forget the parochial parents who choose to support both public & private schools in town, but have had enough of the lack of D97 accountability.

Voting Yes  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:52 AM

Another Dooper, this is the first referendum d97 has run for operating expenses in more than 20 years, which attests to the competetence and integrity of our board. We teach financial responsiblity in our home by talking about what we spend money on and what we don't spend money on and why. What kids will learn at school should the referendum fail is that Oak Park doesn't value art or drama or libraries enough to fund them as needed. Kids are not going to benefit from a failed referendum.

Another Dooper Voting No from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:37 AM

@Voting Yes: The fact that Oak Parkers already fund their schools at an above average rate (to the tune of $42 million in local property taxes each year, and over $13,000 per student) shows that we value education and our schools. But while I've voted for every prior referendum, I'm voting no on this one. Sorry, the schools need to cut back just like the rest of us...teaching our kids the value of a dollar is as important as anything else they'll learn. It has to start somewhere.

Voting Yes  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:20 AM

It's a terrible time for a referendum, especially for anyone unemployed, underemployed, or insecurely employed (which covers about everyone I know). This is the time, though, that we are asked to decide what we value. The character of Oak Park is hugely about our valuing of education and our schools. A "yes" vote affirms that value. It's a hard vote to cast in these terrible economic times. I hope Oak Park rises to the occasion and passes the referendum.

Voting NO  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 9:05 AM

Teachers deserve decent wage and benefits - but that is not the same thing as giving them everything the OPTA demands. We need something we call all live with. Teachers must be in the building 15 mins before school but can leave with the bell at the end. The get planning time during the day & extra $$ for all sorts of committees etc. There was a time when teachers had low paid. I'm glad pay has improved. But now the economy is bad. We cannot keep forking over to OPTA demands.

Seeing the light in Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 8:49 AM

So, Mr. Hubbuch thinks that "No" voters can't look their neighbors in the eye because they just want to save a couple of hundred dollars? Maybe they are embarrassed because they are out of work, out of money and trying desperately to hold on to their homes. Have some compassion for ALL Oak Parkers, not just the well to do. Times are tough. Do you realize that a few hundred dollars pays for two months groceries for a struggling family?


Posted: March 21st, 2011 6:13 AM

And then he received a STANDING OVATION from the audience full of union leaders and teacher-don't forget to add that little nugget!!!

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:18 PM

"NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is NOT because of our creative ideas, or merit of our positions, or care about children, or a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its AFFILIATES are effective because we have power. And we have power because of 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars of dues each year". - Bob Chanin retiring General Council - 2009. His words folks..

Welcome to reality from Op  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:13 PM

@question-Are you kidding me?. I do not "begrudge" the teachers or the children. This is not about the children despite what the "pro ref" team says. D97 needs to wake up and realize that the boom is over. We cannot afford a referendum. Period. D97, like the taxpayers needs to make do with less.

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:03 PM

Your dues to the Union - the NEA....Or tell me how much you make with a batchers' degree, a master degree and your benefits all together......including health, pension and the like. I am willing to bet that it exceeds the private sector by a fair margin....And now your Union dues have gone up another $10 dollars to $20 dollars by the NEA for reelection to politicians....

Violet Gasblob  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:02 PM

Ehw that smell ... Detroit Smeetroit ... Look at my but .. VG rules!

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:56 PM

In Re: Question - Providence RI, just PINK slip all their teachers, admin staff, and administrators, due to a 140 million dollar deficit. Oh by the way, thats 1927 people! The last mayor said that they were $60 million in the hole, but the current mayor did a review and found out that it was more than doubled and they can't jack up taxes anymore due to universities and non-profits in the areas. Hopefully now you see the problem that we the taxpayer that works in private sector have to do...


Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:53 PM

@Arc Light: "Your dues"...What do you mean? I don't pay dues to D97. Seriously, where are you getting this 50% increase if a teacher has a masters? That means someone making $45,000 gets a $22,500 bonus. This is so NOT accurate it is almost laughable if not for the ignorant people that believe it.

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:48 PM

In Re: Question-you probably didn't know this, but Detroit MI, will close down 40 schools by this June, because of a $335 million dollar shortfall. That's half the school system! The unions did not want to give back raises to the city, now causing up to 62 students per classroom next fall. But then again, Detroit have now a good chance of going backrupt by this summer and if they do, ALL union contracts will be scrapped and tossed aside while going into state recievership.

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:40 PM

In Re:Question-If the economy goes down further, there will be cuts on the staff itself (teachers). When Obama does not concentrate on jobs but cutting taxes, regulations and forces Obamacare down our throats, the private sector shrinks, thus the tax revenue goes down, affecting the public sector by shrinking that too. A Fait Accompli....

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:31 PM

in re:Question-you cannot compare private sector unions to public sector unions because public sector unions work for us.-the taxpayer.The Unions and the Democrat Party have a unholy alliance with each other. The Unions give your dues to the politicians on elections and the unions get back deals at the determent of the taxpayer. Here the question: My cumulative raises in the last 12 years is 25%, property taxes up 35%,and teachers getting their masters go up 50% Is this sustainable in 10 years?

OP Resident from Violet gasblob  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:16 PM

I got over you just long enough to let the heartache in. And then tonight I started lovin' you again. Don't leave me I cried don't take that airplane ride. But you put me out of your heart .. leavin me behind.

George Orwell from The Planet Lovetron  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:48 PM

Vote NO !! The world will still spin & the school will still function.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:36 PM

Oh Violet- please weigh in again...

OP Resident  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:34 PM

I wonder what Violet has to say about all of this?

Voting NO  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:11 PM

The district has already changed the OPTA contract - to create the "freeze" and to extend the contract (with generous pay raises and 6% retirement bump) another year. If the referendum fails they plan to go back and change the contract again to deal with their inability to provide planning time. Why not just sit down and renegotiate the contract now. Teachers deserve a decent wage but the current contract is too rich and has annual raises that are out of sync with the times.


Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:56 PM

They do good work. Students, parents, and schools need them. Why punish these hard working people and deny them a job? How can these teachers not take it personally when they are with our children every day- day in and day out? Do your children have a new teacher this year? Do they like him/her? Are they learning, becoming better members of society because of these teachers? Do you want incompetent, ignorant, and unsuccessful children? Okay.Then cut education even further and see what happens.


Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:53 PM

How about corporate greed and deregulation (thank you Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr.)? Before unions, there were no child labor laws, there were no 40 hr. work weeks, there was no healthcare, there were no benefits. Period. Is this the United States of America or the United States of America, Inc.? Yeah, this referendum is coming at a horrible time, but why would you begrudge your children, teachers, librarians, TAs, secretaries, etc. a job for a bad economy?


Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:52 PM

@Silent Majority-Party of NO: actually, collective bargaining is not "old fashioned". Unions help (or used to help until they were attacked) to provide the status quo for good wages. Non-union members were able to point to union members' benefits and negotiate a better life. No unions= corporations being able to dictate what an employee can make (including healthcare). Oh gee, I think we might be seeing this now. They say unions are to "blame" for sending jobs overseas? WTH? Continued...

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:58 PM

The District 97 referendum was mentioned on page six of the January/February edition of the OP/FYI newsletter. You can sign up for e-mail blasts from the Village by visiting

Robert T  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:51 PM

Silent Majority - perhaps you should take a little closer look. "No" signs have started to spring up around town.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:48 PM

@Question: This will also be the first referendum I have voted against in my 17 years here in Oak Park. And I've heard the same from many people. Why is this one different? It's not....but the economy has fundamentally changed, while the basic approach hasn't. Perhaps it's the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" or the first referendum in the new, but not improved economy. I don't think D97 should take it personally...this is what's in store for future refs as well, I'd wager.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:42 PM

@Curious: If the ref fails (and I hope it will), I will also offer my assistance to the D97 Board. I agree with Chet21's "dream", however unlikely. If the ref passes, I'll wait patiently by the phone for a Board member to call, but I won't expect that to happen. There are smart and passionate people on both sides of this of course the debate gets heated.

Alanna Sullivan  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:32 PM

I am so sad to see all of the personal attacks going on during this campaign. Believe what you believe and let others do the same. There are valid arguments for both sides. We live in America!! Don't hate because you disagree!

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:14 PM

@Interested Parent. My "plan" (alright, "dream") is that D97 loses THIS ref and then NO and YES people collaborate to work on Plan B. Will it be based upon 5% annual spending increases? No. Will it include money for ripping up the Irving school asphalt? No. Will choices have to be made? Yes. Might ed fund increases or temp bonding be necessary? Yes. I do NOT blame D97 for anything - they, like most, didn't see the paradigm shift, but their projected budget suggests that they still don't.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 6:48 PM

@Tom You are a wise man. Thanks for your posts.

Silent Majority-Party of NO  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 6:43 PM

I don't believe in yard signs as an exit poll when no one is passing out NO signs. We have some deep thinkers in Oak Park with worldly ideas. Here is the "bottom line" that I get from our new economic model. Everyone has to 1. pay more taxes 2. Work longer for less 3. Take what is being offered. Demands, Collective bargaining and workers rights are old fashioned liberal thinking. Someone(you and your kids-granbabies) has to pay for Public Healthcare-Education and Pensions. Ya Feel Me!


Posted: March 20th, 2011 6:29 PM

As I see it, D97 had to make the tough choice between cutting non-classroom activities or raising class sizes drastically. I know, Chet21 says there is plenty in the bank. But not for long. And the contract can't just be changed. You don't agree...fine... but D97 feels this is the best way to save core academics. Vote NO and make changes? We'll see who comes forward to help the District. Sounds like only Chet21 and Noel right now. And remember...laws do apply and you can't just do what you want.

Interested Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 6:14 PM

I know most of you will either not care or will cry "liar", but the fact of the discussion concerning the ombudsman is that it is in the Strategic Plan and one of the outgoing Board members asked for the discussion before the end of the term. It was made very clear that this is a non-certified support position (not an administrator or a coordinator) and that the Board wouldn't consider it at all at this time. They just TALKED about it IF needed & affordable in the future. Any other conspiracies?


Posted: March 20th, 2011 5:29 PM

I have been actively involved in D97 for several years. During that time I have seen much waste and virtually no accountability. I think teaches should make a decent wage. I also think there should be accountabiltiy for teachers - at least to use district materials to teach District established skills/content. We have many good teachers. We do them a disservice by not assuring that all teaches in the district teach to their standard. Am I willing to pay more for the same old problems? NO

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 5:27 PM

@Question: The state is "us". The village is "us". The federal government is "us". These entities are nonexistent without our dollars. No one is giving you anything, they are TAKING!

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 5:15 PM

My answer mimics Arc Light. I'd also add that D97 is undeserving because, despite the fin'l pain to so many, they just keep on spending like the boom times are still rolling. Gosh, they even agreed to extend the existing D97 contracts - with their wonderful pension bonuses and raises well beyond what the rest of us (Wall St excluded) is receiving. Heck, how about their bragging about the freeze - which retained, what else, pension bonuses? And then they hold our children hostage with Armageddon!


Posted: March 20th, 2011 5:14 PM

It wasn't a "personal" attack. I was just making an observation. I'm just trying to understand the rationale of voting no when other referendums have passed. Unfortunately, the state has underfunded education for years and Oak Park doesn't have a lot of industry to tax and therefore, the burden lies mainly on the residents. It's not fair, but that's the reality of it. I understand we are living in difficult times, but making an example out of D97 isn't the right move. Teachers are not the enemy.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:58 PM

The secret to comedy is timing. I suppose that is also true for referendums.


Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:57 PM

This is the first time I have voted no on an educational referendum. Whether or not I got fooled in the past I don't know, but in those cases I voted yes because the rationale seemed to make sense. This time it does not. As to being sexist - you just gave a big laugh to anybody who knows me. Let's stick to the issues and give the personal attacks a rest.

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:56 PM

In re: Question - I don't really care about your last two questions - Why? -Because they are lucky to have jobs, for crying out loud!!!.........

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:52 PM

in re Question: In the past referendums, we had a booming economy, 4.7 to 5% unemployment and money to burn.....Now with 18% unemployment (U-6 numbers) 19% underemployment, 600 foreclosures since 2008, the worst economy since the Great Depression, 35% of the American population is living on government handouts, food inflation up last month at 3.9%, gas at $4.00 and climbing, and your job could be cut, what would you do?!?!


Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:52 PM

But why? What made the other referendums worthy of a "yes" vote and this one a "no" vote?

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:47 PM

@Quesiton(sic): This will be the first referendum I have voted against in my more than twenty years of Oak Park residency.


Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:39 PM

I'm just wondering how many of you voted for the other referendums- D200, the middle schools, the library, and the park district? Do you always vote no? Why vote yes for the high school(HS teachers make much more than elementary school teachers)? It seems very sexist since elementary school teachers tend to be female while there are more male high school teachers. And as we all know, men make more than women in this society.

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:36 PM

Just to cap my recent post, the state DOES NOT have to pick up the pension when it fails. "The answer is that debt obligation rests solely with the State's employee pension funds. The State itself in not a guarantor of that obligation." Section 22-403 of the Illinois Pension Code. Violet, are you still with me at this time?

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:23 PM

Violet Aura, I lost credibility.. REALLY?!?! Chris Christie balanced the New Jersey State budget last year, how is Governor Quinn doing with our state budget? $650 million in the red still. Governor Christie is currently working on the pension system. How is Quinn doing?: NOTHING. But the state pension system is 38% funded with a $144 billion dollar shortfall. That means that the public sector will not get their pensions down the road, ala Prichard Alabama went broke in 2009.....


Posted: March 20th, 2011 4:05 PM

The minutes from March 1 indicate that the new position would "help parents navigate the system in a way that benefits the students we serve." Isn't this what all staff should be doing? I have been part of discussions about this kind of a position relative to special ed. The concern has been that if it is a teacher that person would have no oversight authority. If it is an admin, he or she will end up defending the status quo even when there are problems. Not a good use of my tax dollar.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 3:18 PM

May I just say, if the equation being bandied about is correct, my taxes will go up by almost $700. That is hardly a couple of hundred. Nor is it even several hundred. But, of course, when you are spending other people's money, you can afford to be casual.

question for E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 3:07 PM

I just looked back at the indexes of the OP newsletter for the last year, and I see no mention of the referendum. When exactly was it in the OP newsletter? And how is it that you get emails from the Village? I've never received an email from the village. The main point remains: voters should be able to know the true impact of the referendum from reading the ballot. They shouldn't need special knowledge.

Chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:52 PM

@E.Jackson. If you re-read my comment, you'll see that I emphasized the word "SOUND." Also, to be honest, 99% of OP can not probably differentiate between "administrator" & "coordinator" when it comes to D200 or D97 employees. I know that I can't. Point? I think that, definitionally, we're splitting hairs. Regardless, to most, this is an example of the mindset which leads to D97 adding more and more staff - and then saying "we're frugal, but, gosh, we need more $$$ - or CAST/BRAVO/ART is GONE!

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:35 PM

Also, creating an outreach coordinator or ombudsman position was part of the strategic plan that was launched in 2007. It's not like this is something new that was pulled out of thin air.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:31 PM

So Mr. Kuriakos publicly criticizes Mr. Traczyk and Ms. Song at a forum for their political contributions, which have nothing to do with this issue, and you refer to the supporters of the referendum as "pod people," and you want to complain about bullying?

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:24 PM

Chet - the high school has s similar outreach coordinator position held by Deb Mittleman. Do you see Ms. Mittleman's name on D200's administrative compensation report - Perhaps we should wait for more information about the position before jumping to conclusions.

Taxpayer from OP  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:23 PM

@Jeff: What? You shared your true feelings and referenced the mountain of actual data that shows D97 isn't perfect? You're crazy! No wonder they are trying to convert you. Just wear the button, put up the yard sign and then VOTE NO like others are doing. But be careful, we don't want you turning into one of the "pod people"!!

Chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:18 PM

@E.Jackson. 2 thoughts about this potential "new position" - it sure does SOUND like an administrative position (what else would you call it? "Low-Paid Clerk"?) and its being discussed/proposed at this moment serves, rightly or wrongly, to STRONGLY support the contention made by myself and others that D97 is a spendthrift district which has no grasp of the true fin'l angst of many in OP. Sadly, ONLY a NO vote will enable them to understand this.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:16 PM

I wasn't aware that the newspapers, public library and e-mails blasts from the village are only available to people with kids. I also believe the village may have included information about the referendum in a previous edition of their quarterly newsletter, also not just for people with kids. And if they had sent something out to everyone stating the cost as $38 per $1000, they probably would have been accused of misleading the taxpayers.

Signs from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:11 PM

Signs -- an interesting thing in OP. With for sale signs, we could see how many are currently trying to move out, or how many houses (reportedly 600 ) are in foreclosure. What about yard signs for "Taxes Higher Than Mortgage Payment", or "Living Paycheck to Paycheck", or "Just Got Laid Off", or "Have Too Much Debt." There are lots of "Yes on Ref" signs, but many more yards without them. What signs might these yards have that explain why they quietly, justifiably oppose higher taxes? VOTE NO.

answer for E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 2:00 PM

Most of the methods of informing the public about the referendum would only reach people with kids. The most recent mailing from the Village discussed the electric purchase option on the ballot on April 5, but nothing about the referendum. I don't expect someone to go door to door, but how about a mailing? The ballot should explain the referendum accurately so voters don't need special knowledge to know the real impact.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:47 PM

As for the cost of the referendum, this came from a Tribune article today. "Both Traczyk and ElSaffar agreed that another figure released by the district that the referendum measure would increase tax bills by $38 per every $1,000 of existing property taxes paid is both easier to calculate and an accurate representation of the potential tax increase."

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:44 PM

I read the article about the parent outreach coordinator position. Nowhere in the story does it say this will be an administrative position. In fact, if they follow suit with other districts, this will be a part-time or low paying full-time position. As for your other comment, information about the referendum has been disseminated by the district, the newspapers, the village, the high school, the library and the park district. Did you want them to go door to door?


Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:40 PM

I made the mistake of telling a few people my feelings about the referendum and I have been constantly pulled aside and "corrected" for pointing out that the per pupil spending is much higher than average and our taxes are higher than many other similar communities. The supporters seem like bullies.

correction on answer for E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:37 PM

Sorry--the board discussed the new position on March 1, not last week, but it was reported in the WJ last week.

Voting no  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:36 PM

Unfortunately there is nothing new about Oak Parkers vilifying folks for having a different point of view. There are many people (including some teachers) who see no value in the referendum. We are not anti-education and do not wish to limit any kid's opportunities. What we wish is to stop wasteful spending. And yes, the "spend more money" folks have had more money and more organization than us lowly, ordinary, grass roots folks who think and read before we knee-jerk vote.

answer for E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:29 PM

Apparently you haven't done a good job of keeping informed. Virginia is talking about the position discussed at last week's D97 board meeting that was reported in the most recent Wednesday Journal. By the way, if you don't have a child in D97 and don't take an OP paper, it would have been very easy to know nothing about the referendum (until the signs came out). D97 bears the responsibility for informing the voters of the real amount they are seeking.

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:15 PM

Seriously, JC. The referendum has been covered in the local newspapers for months, and discussed publicly at any number of events. At what point do people bare the responsibility of getting informed/educated about an issue?

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:08 PM

What administrative position are you talking about, Virgina? They just cut administrative positions, including the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 1:04 PM

After your sentence began "One of my favorite governors--Chris Christie," you lost all credibility. Wow, Oak Park! Look at what you've become!

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:41 AM

One of my favorite Governers: Chris Christie famously said this: "I lost my job, I just lost my house, and you are going to raise my taxes. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?!" Powder is dry......

Arc Light from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:35 AM

Virginia - I agree. The District,teachers and Unions better get ready for BIG change down the road. Whats happening in Madison WI,MI,OH,IN,TN,KY,ID,NY,NJ,FL,and Virginia is going to happen here. Elimination of collective bargaining, and union fees, pension reform, means testing, merit pay and hopefully school votchers and choice. I see no other way because we are at a tipping point.

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 11:19 AM

District 97 is clueless. We are told education will suffer if the taxpayers don't fork over, but now they are looking at creating another adminstrative position. They whip up parent hysteria, but their policies force families out of Oak Park. Vote NO!

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:45 AM

"VOTE NO" signs are now available and being distributed. Shoot an email to, with the words yard sign in the subject box and we can get them to you (or tell you where to pick them up).  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:39 AM

Oak Parkers are economically clueless. Our school taxes have been rising without refs. It's the school board and the union vs the taxpayer. Say No!

Arc LIght from Oak Park   

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:08 AM

Now it comes to taunting eh? Listen here and listen good: It is not what you can take, its what the taxpayer can bear to pay for this. You may win this battle, but you never will win the war. There is more taxpayers than union heads, administrators, and teachers and we have the last word and vote!!!!!!

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:37 AM

I also find it interesting that in a community that almost universally condemned the Bush administration's tactics, that Bush-like fear mongering is the primary tactic to advance the referendum. Give us more money or we'll cut programs, home values will plumet and your children will become common.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:15 AM

One interpretation of the lack of no signs is embarrassment. Another is that no signs aren't available. Still another is that tge cramdown vote in an off-cycle election has served to adequately notify those in support of the referendum, while leaving those who don't have public school kids relatively uninformed.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:46 AM

Mr. Hubbuch: The economist Herbert Stein once said, "If something cannot continue forever, it will stop." I do not know if April 5 is that day. But I am sure the day will come. Snow or no snow.

voting no  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:45 AM

Thanks for perpetuating the myth that all Oak Parkers have extra money that they would rather save than spend on the children. Did you ever think that some Oak Parkers may need that money to FEED their own children? Maybe they are just too ashamed to tell their neighbors that they need to vote no because they are barely making ends meet. This isn't a hypothetical. I know families in OP in this situation. Way to kick them while they are down, John.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 5:48 AM

(cont'd) But, the District's rhetoric that voting NO is anti-teacher/union/arts/children etc. is divisive. So much so that people would rather quietly vote NO than argue with the YES crowd. In the end, voting NO isn't necessarily anti- any of the things's just a statement that OP taxes are high enough, that D97's $80 million overall budget should be enough, and that it's time for the District to do what taxpayers do and live within their means. See you Apr. 5th snow or no snow.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 5:38 AM

John: As you well know, all Oak Park taxpayers already "support the education of little kids" at a very high level, altogether about $42 million per year in local property taxes. We are more than able to look our neighbors in the eye and let them know that while we support education, we cannot continue to do so into perpetuity without fiscal restraint and accountability.


Posted: March 19th, 2011 9:41 PM

I am hopeful that the referendum will pass. I do understand the no voters and their reasoning that our taxes are high and that there should be more accountability. However, I don't believe we should hurt the quality of education in our schools to prove a point and hopefully make some changes. The way to make change is to get involved and run for the Board, or at the very least, attend some meetings, write letters, be involved. A "no" vote will not change what the opposition hopes it will.

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