Oak Brook group hopes to support Butler referendums
Brook Forest Elementary School (pictured) and Butler Junior High would be closed if the Butler Elementary District 53 Board is able to complete its desire to build a new school at the Sports Core. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 3, 2013 12:36PM
OAK BROOK — The co-chairmen of a new citizen’s group in Oak Brook believe education is the best way to drum up support for two referendums.
“There is just so much misinformation and innuendo out there about this issue,” said Jim Pehta, who, along with Joe Mondeschean, chairs Citizens for a Better Oak Brook. “An educated vote is the best vote of all.”
Pehta plans seven information sessions over six weeks on the Butler Elementary District 53 Board to purchase 8.5 acres of Sports Core property from village and build a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. That plan would include closing Butler Junior High and Brook Forest Elementary, and selling those properties, which were gifts of the Butler family.
All Oak Brook voters have the opportunity April 9 to have their say on an advisory referendum seeking approval for the village to sell Sports Core property to District 53.
A second referendum will ask voters in District 53 to approve the sale of $15 million in bonds to help fund the building of a new school. About two-thirds of Oak Brook residents live in District 53.
Pehta said he believes the sale of Sports Core land presents more of a challenge than District 53 question about the bond sale.
“Really, the biggest challenge is getting people to the polls,” he said. “The turnout is low for municipal elections. The Sports Core issue is challenging because it involves non-District 53 people.”
“There are people who are against building this new school because concerned about open space, and we have to try to find the right balance of open space to satisfy them.”
“The Sports Core issue has a bigger audience that needs to be educated,” he said. “Asking people for more money is always a challenge, but this is about an investment in our kids and our community. And we need to show there is a return on that investment.”
Pehta said it’s important that voters look to Oak Brook’s future when deciding how to vote. It would cost $12.7 million to upgrade the two existing schools, so money will have to be spent either way.
“We want to use this platform to set forth a new 50-year education plan for Oak Brook,” he said. “It’s a matter of deciding if you want to put new money into new technology in a new building, instead of putting money into old buildings.”