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Education

Informational campaign to precede District 99 referendum

Community High School District 99 is doing all it can to make sure voters are informed about the referendum question that will appear on the March 20 ballot to fund significant improvements at both Downers Grove North and South high schools.
Community High School District 99 is doing all it can to make sure voters are informed about the referendum question that will appear on the March 20 ballot to fund significant improvements at both Downers Grove North and South high schools.

DOWNERS GROVE – State law prohibits Community High School District 99 from campaigning for support of the referendum question that will appear on the March 20 ballot, but the district is doing all it can to make sure voters are informed.

The Board of Education in December 2017 voted to place a referendum question on the ballot seeking approval for a $136.6 million bond measure to fund significant improvements at both Downers Grove North and South high schools.

The estimated annual tax impact of the measure is $65 for a $300,000 home. These improvements will be financed over a 24-year period, according to the district.

District officials want to make sure voters have all the facts about the proposal.

“Once the item is placed on the ballot, we’re very limited in what we can do,” Superintendent Hank Thiele said. “You really can’t be promotional. We cannot be persuasive.”

However, the district will host open houses at both Downers Grove North and South high schools in February.

The events will be Feb. 21 at the Downers Grove South cafetorium and Feb. 22 at the Downers Grove North auditorium. A 40-minute presentation will be followed by a building tour and Q&A session. Residents are asked to RSVP at csd99.org/MFP.

The district’s frequently-asked-question page has been updated as well. Residents can vist the page at csd99.org/master-facility-plan/mfp-faq.

The presentations will be similar to the ones the district gave in 2017 before it conducted a phone poll and mail survey to gauge the community’s support for the referendum.

Additionally, district officials will offer presentations to any community group or organization that requests more information, Thiele said. So far, the district has not received any requests for information or presentations.

“I have not been contacted,” Thiele said.

He said the district's informational campaign prior to the phone poll and mail survey was effective in laying out the details of the proposal.

Results of both a mail survey sent to all homes in the district and a phone poll of 300 likely voters indicated district residents support a proposal that would include enhanced security measures and updated classrooms and labs at both schools, among other improvements.

While the district cannot persuade voters to support the referendum, residents can form groups to support or oppose the initiative, Thiele said.

He said he’s unaware of any groups that have formed on either side of the question.

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