On Wednesday, February 6, the Highland Park-Highwood and Deerfield Area Leagues of Women Voters approved the recommendation of their Joint Working Group to support the upcoming School District 113 referendum. The decision was made after representatives of both Leagues met that evening to hear a presentation by the Working Group .
Following the presentation, all the League members in attendance agreed with the Working Group's conclusion that the referendum meets League criteria, and the Leagues' leadership voted to officially support the April 9 referendum.
League referendum criteria require that the district have clear educational objectives reflecting the expectations and desires of the community and show the linkage between the objectives and the request for additional funding. Also, there must be evidence that without the bond issue, the physical plant of the district will not be adequately maintained and will lack essentials. The Joint Working Group cited examples of serious facility problems, such as flooding at the Deerfield High School Library, and equipment at Highland Park High School that is more than 70 years old and no longer reliable or cost-effective to operate.
League criteria also require evidence that the district provided sufficient opportunity for public participation in developing its referendum plan. Kelly McShane, Executive Board Member of the Deerfield Area League, said that "League members were impressed by the transparency of District 113's process and the variety of ways that community members could provide input. "
Highland Park / Highwood League President Barbara Lippai agreed, pointing out that thousands of people responded to a community-wide survey, and more than a hundred individuals answered the District's request for volunteers to participate in study groups. "Everyone who volunteered was able to take part in the study process," said Lippai.
Janet Swartz, League Working Group Chair, voiced her appreciation to community members for being so generous with their time, including more than 25 professionals who used their market research skills to help the district gather community views, and those professionals with expertise in architecture, construction and finance who served on the District Steering Committee. "The hours of donated professional time resulted in a more accountable and reliable process," stated Swartz.