VIDEO: Voters Reject High School Referendum
Opponents hope to see better spending plan.
After months of community contention, voters strongly defeated a $133 million Township High School District 113 referendum Tuesday. The proposal provided for capital improvements at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools.
Voting against the proposal were 8,872 citizens (56 percent). The measure was supported by 6,831 people (44 percent).
“People recognized a better plan was needed,” Pete Koukos said. Koukos was one of the leaders of Education First, the advocacy group opposed to the referendum. “The board will now have to revisit the issue addressing needs, not wants.”
Robert Kellman, the campaign manager for Citizens Aiming for Responsible Enhancements (CARE), the advocacy group supporting the referendum, believes improvements will eventually be made at the schools.
“At the end of the day people know what needs to be done and it will be done,” Kellman said. “People still care about the schools.”
Annette Lidawer, a board member whose term expires in 2013, was disappointed with the defeat of the proposed spending plan. She recognizes necessary work remains.
“I hope we can provide for our children the way we have an obligation to do so,” she said. “We need to look at this before construction costs go up and before our needs escalate even further.” She hopes to see a new ballot proposal in the March, 2012 primary election.
District 113 Superintendent George Fornero also expressed his regret with the proposal's outcome. “We are extremely disappointed that the referendum did not pass. The board of Ed unanimously voted to place this question on the ballot because they believe the defined renovations are essential,” he released in a statement to Patch late Tuesday.
“At future meetings we will begin to discuss where we go from here. But tonight [Tuesday] we are disheartened because we believe this plan was necessary, fiscally responsible and representative of community input. We've said all along our building needs are not going away. We have to figure out how to tackle these significant challenges.”
Click on the video above to hear reaction from both Education First and CARE members on election night.