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Letters to the Editor

Historic opportunity in North Palos 117
Dear Editor:
  On Tuesday, April 9, North Palos District 117 voters will have an historic opportunity to knock down and replace a structurally sound junior high school built in 1965 and modified in 1974 and 2000, to build a brand new school of a little bigger size. This concept of destroying such a facility has been rejected by virtually every district in the state when this choice was put before them.
  There’s a reason for this. Whenever a plan like this has been proposed, it’s been found to be wasteful, uneconomical, and fairly ridiculous by well-informed voters.
  The district’s claim that the destruction and rebuilding of the school is somehow “less expensive” than a renovation and “necessary” falls apart under objective analysis.
  The district added 20 years of assumed maintenance and renovations to the cost of the addition to compare with a completely new school. Even with overestimating addition costs and underestimating the new school costs, the “equalized investment” of the projects don’t meet until 2022. If the difference in spending dollars today for a new school versus a decade from now for maintenance and renovations is considered, the payback will be far longer, if it is ever reached!
  The fact that the school report cards show enrollment has dropped by about 70 students last year also call into question the board’s enrollment growth claims.
  This wouldn’t be the first time that the board has in my opinion misled voters about tax increases. In 2005 it convinced voters that it “needed” a massive tax increase “for the children.” Over the last six years of revenues and expenses provided in the school report cards since the refendum passed, the Board has levied taxes for $11 million more than its spending over that period. The district financial evaluation is provided on the ISBE web site at ftp://ftpfinance.isbe.state.il.st.us/AFRProfile/2012/07016117002.pdf.

  When you consider that hundreds of homes are in foreclosure every year in the district, you have to seriously question the judgement and compassion of the board when it comes to taxing the community.
  The fact is, students’ needs can be met if this referendum is justifiably defeated. The surplus from the unnecessarily large tax increase of 2005 can fund the addition, and life safety funds can be used to address any safety issues in the school.
  Feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for additional information on this ill-conceived project.
Bob Shelstrom
Palos Park

Barker bites back
Dear Editor:
  My name is Lynn Barker née Heveran. I am running for village clerk of Chicago Ridge on April 9. My opponent, George Schleyer, has been publicly attacking my credibility and 12 years of service as a Chicago Ridge School District 127½ board member, and I feel compelled to counter his inaccurate accusations.

  Like all taxpayers, my opponent receives a tax bill that outlines where collected dollars are utilized. Illinois school districts heavily rely upon local property taxes to sustain themselves. During my 12 years on the school board, during which his family was serviced by district 127½, Mr. Schleyer never once approached the board expressing concerns or complaints about the district’s funding or management. One can only assume that my opponent harbored no objections to the operation of the district and was quite accepting of the tax money generated to ensure services by the district for his family. Now that Mr. Schleyer’s family no longer requires the services of district 127½, and since he is running for office against a former school board member, he has now developed a disdain for that he once found agreeable.
  Mr. Schleyer is misrepresenting the facts. His half-baked “warning” about me willfully misleads the community by contending that I turned my back on the taxpayers of our village and single-handedly began imposing unreasonable and unwarranted taxation. I do not personally possess the authority to levy taxation; I merely honor my obligation to pay my fair share of taxes.
  As village clerk, I will proudly serve as a representative and voice for the citizens of Chicago Ridge. To that end, I promise that as Clerk, I will defend the interests of all taxpayers, work diligently to keep taxes low, and responsibly perform my duties.
Lynn M. Barker
Chicago Ridge
 

New junior high Needed
Dear Editor:
  Last November, the board of education of North Palos School District 117 passed a motion to place on the April 9 ballot a referendum that if approved by voters would authorize $30 million bond issue for the purpose of building a new Conrady Junior High.
  Why did I vote to place the $30 million bond issue on the ballot? There are numerous reasons, however, the most important ones to me are:
  1) As a 117 board of education member, I took an oath to provide the best educational opportunities for more than 3,100 students. We need a new junior high to continue our outstanding programs.
  2) Conrady renovations to upgrade and maintain the current building would cost millions of dollars and certain areas like narrow hallways and the limited number of classrooms would remain the same.
  3) Our current curriculum will suffer throughout the district because monies that fund our excellent programs will have to be spent on fixing the old Conrady; excellent programs that enabled Glen Oaks to achieve the covenant Blue Ribbon Award earlier this year.
  4) If the bond issue passes, home values likely will rise and more families will seek to move into the District 117 community because of our schools and successful programs. This will benefit every home owner and renter.
  5) Historically, low interest rates make an excellent time to borrow money. Also, the need for new construction at a time when most companies are looking for work will allow us to obtain the most competitive pricing opportunities.
  Our community will grow and continue to be a favorable destination to live as long as the schools continue performing at high levels. Everyone has to make an individual choice regarding the bond issue on April 9th. Please consider all the reasons before making your final decision.
Tom Kostes,
President
North Palos School Dist. 117
Board of Education

Dear Editor:
  Why I Support the Conrady Junior High School modernization referendum.
  On April 9th voters residing in School District 117 have an opportunity to approve a referendum to fund much needed improvements to Conrady Junior High School. Conrady was built in 1965 and there have been additions to the building in 1973, 1979 and 2000. Due to a more than 20 percent increase in the student population over the last 15 years, District 117 this year installed four mobile classrooms in the parking lot to add teaching space. Despite the same school boundaries, projections indicate that the enrollment growth will continue for the foreseeable future. While the increased enrollment is a clear sign of the vitality of our community, this has caused significant overcrowding in an already outdated junior high building.
  As many of you know, the school district recently has funded necessary facility improvements to Glen Oaks, Oak Ridge and Sorrick Schools. Over the last few years I have heard from parents and school district officials that Conrady is woefully inadequate, outdated and in dire need of significant improvements. While I was not necessarily skeptical of these claims, I certainly felt it necessary to see for myself. During a recent open house, I walked throughout the school and realized that it has not changed much since 30 years ago when I was in junior high. On the evening that I toured the school we had a significant rain earlier that day. One of the science classrooms had water streaming down a wall through a leak in the roof and there appeared to be mold in a corner of the ceiling. The other classrooms, cafeteria and music room were all quite outdated and very cramped. Indeed, reports are accurate that the overcrowding has resulted in teachers utilizing storage rooms and non-instructional space for instruction.
  In my opinion, the current junior high building truly fails to provide our children with an adequate educational environment relative to most junior high schools in the area. Despite the estimated cost to homeowners, I believe that the substandard facilities and increasing enrollment projections are compelling reasons to support the referendum. It is proven that the strength and stability of a community is directly correlated to the quality of its educational system. I believe that supporting this referendum is the right thing to do at the right time for the children of District 117 and for the future of our community.
Mike Howley
Mayor, Hickory Hills

Wait ’til next year
Dear Editor:
  Maybe we can thank President Barack Obama for his radical socialist views that he has perpretated on our country and which have brought us to this low point in our economy and general malcontent.
  Maybe we needed just this to bring the Republican conservatives together to defend their pinciples once again which define the essence of the American Dream and its historical beginnings. Last weekend we watched the Conservatve Convention defend and define its philosophy as eloquently as I have ever heard them. The young audience was on its collective feet all through those two days especially when they heard statements like “personal responsibility,” “limited government” and” personal freedom”. They knew these are the only guarantee for personal well-being that have inspired our citizens both here and abroad since the country’s beginnings.
  They heard these same sentiments from potential candidates as well as those now in office. This bodes well for 2014.
Mildred Para
Evergreen Park