New Trier Superintendent sells value of bond referendum

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January 29, 2010

A "Vote Yes" campaign sign in Northfield, IL

By Kyle Maichle

NORTHFIELD, Illinois: Ballotpedia interviewed Dr. Linda Yonke, the Superintendent of the New Trier Township High School School District on January 29, 2010 at the District's administration building in Northfield, Illinois nearly three days before voters decide to approve a high dollar bond referendum.

When asked about the response of the referendum, Dr. Yonke said that the response has been "positive" in the New Trier community despite the effects of the recession. The positive response the New Trier administration touts comes despite concerns if the $174 million dollar project could be a successful sell in a bad economy. Dr. Yonke told Ballotpedia that the impact varies from taxpayer to taxpayer on whether they would be in support or opposition of the project. Yonke cited how individuals would accept an yearly property tax increase of nearly $300 a year per $10,000 of valued property would be a key if the New Trier Administration feels if they are successful in selling the referendum to the district's voters.

Ballotpedia also asked Dr. Yonke about how the school district would approach accepting Build America Bonds made possible from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Dr. Yonke emphasized that New Trier would not have to go through a competitive bidding process like with government grants in the event New Trier voters approve the referendum. Yonke said that any state or local government unit can request the bonds as long they are available and they become eligible once they receive the proper approval to issue the bonds. The reason why New Trier wants to tap into the Build America Bonds because of the low interest rates with the bonds coupled with construction costs becoming lower.

When asked about what message would a successful referendum send to other school districts in Illinois, Dr. Yonke was not concerned if it sent a message to other districts. Yonke said: "school districts have highly individual needs and with how outdated the buildings at New Trier shows that our needs are different from other districts."

Despite the bond referendum comes at the same time when hotly contested races for U.S. Senate and Illinois Governor come on February 2nd, Dr. Yonke said the key to victory on election night: "is getting out information about the project to prospective voters." Yonke said that she is not concerned if voter turnout for the Governor and U.S. Senate primaries in the communities that make up the New Trier Township High School District could sway the referendum one way or the other on election night.

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