Oracle After Hours: District 34 Looks to Enhance Educational Experience Through Building Renovations

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Oracle After Hours: District 34 Looks to Enhance Educational Experience Through Building Renovations

Noah Walch, web editor

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We’re all in high school now. From seniors in their fourth year to freshmen still making their way through their first semester, we are all learning in the same building. And sometimes, I think, we take that building for granted. South’s campus, while by no means perfect, still enhances the educational experience of its students, and we must be extremely cognizant of this privilege.

District 34, Glenview’s middle and elementary schools, does not have this privilege. Alumni of any District 34 elementary school now at GBS attended a school built before many of their parents were even born. According to the educational material distributed by district, Springman was built in 1953. Westbrook Elementary School celebrates its 70th birthday this year. Lyon Elementary is even older.

And with these aging buildings comes infrastructural deficiencies. District 34 Superintendent Dane Delli noted that the discussion about the dilapidated state of the schools has been ongoing since he was hired two years ago.

“The whole topic of deficiencies in the facilities at all of our buildings across the district has been discussed, not in front of large audiences, but it’s been a discussion point really for the last two years,” Delli said.

According to an article published on September 18 by the Chicago Tribune’s Alexandra Kukulka, the District hired FGM Architects to assess their eight schools, as well as the administrative building by Westbrook. They found “a whole host of deficiencies,” Delli said. The firm described Springman Middle School as “functionally obsolete.”

Anyone who attended Springman recently could tell you the same. A large-scale renovation in the summer of 2016 was very clearly inadequate. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. 

District 34 students deserve better. Henking’s kindergarteners deserve space for more than a half-day of school when 79% of districts in Illinois offer a full day of learning. Fourth graders at Pleasant Ridge deserve better than hallways used as teaching space because classroom size is not adequate.

The district knows this. In December, the school board will vote to place a referendum on the presidential primary ballot asking Glenview taxpayers to foot the estimated $157 million bill for refurbishments districtwide. It’s a question that hasn’t been asked of residents since 1987, the same year Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up debuted.

Opposition to the initiative has not yet coalesced, but it is sure to. The aforementioned educational material says that the initiative would be accompanied by a property tax hike of at least 5% per household. To fiscal conservatives, this is, of course, abhorrent, but also may be viewed as a waste of taxpayer dollars to residents without children in the district.

But living in a community like Glenview means that we have a commitment to support our fellow citizens, regardless of age. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, every last one of us has a stake in the state of our schools. Not only will the improvements increase property values alongside education quality, but they will demonstrate to the young people of this town that Glenview truly stands by the pillars of Character Counts they all know so well.

This referendum may seem like a local footnote in a blockbuster nationwide race with sensational headlines. It may seem like a vote for higher taxes with no payoff in return. But this March, Glenview voters have the opportunity to invest in the potential of their town’s children. If we value our future, it is imperative to do so.

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