By Morton Grove resident and parent, Kristina Otte.
My husband and I moved to Morton Grove nearly seven years ago, about to become parents for the first time. We were happy to find a nice house in a village with great amenities close to Chicago. We did not truly understand then, as soon-to-be parents, that we were also moving into one of the most high-performing school districts in the area.
Now, in 2012, Golf School District 67 is facing serious financial hardship. While our students continue to perform at very high rates at both Hynes Elementary School and Golf Middle School (both in the top 35 in Cook County’s top 300), the current school fund balance is precipitously low. Drastic cuts are about to be made to programs, to teachers and to our children’s quality of education, which will affect each and every one of us.
Our facilities, not updated since the 1960’s, have serious problems. The heating and cooling systems repeatedly fail, forcing kindergarteners, for example, to wear their coats in class. At the hand sinks, corroded plumbing results in brown, rusty water equaled only by the rain water leaking into classrooms at both buildings.
Like our buildings, our curriculum is also in danger of crumbling. At the recent Board of Education meeting, it was announced that over a dozen teaching jobs will be reduced or eliminated. Art and music programs are on the chopping block. Full-day kindergarten will be permanently cut from 7.5 hours to 2.5 hours a day. All student clubs and after-school athletics will disappear. These are just a few items on the long list of cuts on the district’s website if action is not taken.
As a parent I am truly saddened at this situation. Golf 67 has not had a referendum since 1969. That’s 43 years ago! ALL other districts that feed into Niles North have had one, if not two, referenda since then (except tax-revenue-wealthy Old Orchard). We have problems now. We need to deal with these problems now. Our teachers and children have outperformed other school districts despite an infrastructure that has been deteriorating for years- but ‘band-aid’ fixes are no longer a solution. More than our fine reputation is at stake. Regardless of whether one has children in school or not, our property values are affected by the quality of the schools. Long term, our quality of life and therefore our very future, is at risk.
The ballot on March 20th will ask those of us in District 67 two questions: Will we support facilities improvements for our buildings and will we support the curriculum that we currently prize. I ask my fellow District 67 residents to vote yes on both questions. We can continue to provide our children with the quality of education that all children deserve by voting YES on March 20th.