North suburban Avoca School District 37 school consolidation proposal on Illinois primary ballot

Stephanie Wade Image
Wednesday, March 6, 2024
North suburban school consolidation proposal on IL primary ballot
The Avoca School District 37 proposal to consolidate 2 elementary schools into a new school and raise property taxes will be on the IL primary ballot.

GLENVIEW, Ill. (WLS) -- A north suburban school referendum is drawing a lot of attention, as voters in Avoca School District 37 will have to decide whether to consolidate two schools into a single campus while increasing property taxes.

The community is visibly split, with dueling "yes" and "no" signs decorating front yards.

The school district has 655 students across portions of Glenview, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka. It has placed a proposed $89.8 million bond referendum onto the March 19 Illinois primary ballot.

"It was really kind of a pressure point decision to say now is the time to make a long-term investment that's actually going to create cost savings for the community," said Superintendent Dr. Kaine Osburn.

After studying the district's finances for three years, the school board wants to close Avoca West Elementary School in Glenview and build a new elementary school next to Marie Murphy Middle School in Wilmette.

"The community very much wants to keep up with the local school districts in terms of competitiveness, and it was no longer going to be economically sustainable to continue to pour new money into old buildings, and stay competitive," said Osburn.

"Everybody knows that it's time. And the last time that we significantly invested in our schools in this community was when we were discovering the internet in the 90s," said parent Peter Leckerling, who supports the referendum.

Leckerling's child is in third grade.

"We are in the greater New Trier feeder district area. And so the educational standards are extremely high," he said. "Other districts have invested $300 million in the last decade into their schools. We haven't done any."

Others like Yasmina De la Torre, whose child just graduated from the district, are opposed.

"We were furious, we were disappointed, we were unhappy about the price tag that was attached," she said.

She said families enjoy having the two separate locations, and thinks the cost is too expensive.

"Especially the residents that bought their homes and picked that location to be close to the elementary school. There's a beautiful park area. They can walk there with their kids, they can enjoy it," she said.

Katherine Hill, who lives across the street from the middle school, is also worried about student safety and an influx of traffic.

"In fact, a lot of times we'll be coming out of the road here and there can be traffic congestion. I've almost been hit by a car several times. So we just have a lot of concerns about the plans," she said.

People will have the chance to ask more questions about the proposal at Tuesday night's open house hosted by school administrators at Avoca West in Glenview.