Winnetka, News

Winnetka 36 and North Shore 112 referendums cruise to voter approval on Election Night

What a difference a few years — and a tens of millions of dollars — make.

Voters in Winnetka and Highland Park/Highwood showed significant support for their local public schools on Election Night, as each community approved scaled-back referenda after denying similar asks within the past decade.

Election results — tabulated by the Lake County and Cook County clerk’s offices — are not yet official and some votes still must be counted as of Wednesday, Nov. 9

Nearly 64.2 percent of voters (3,335 of 1,857) backed the $59.4 million Winnetka Public Schools District 36 referendum, with all 10 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results from the Cook County Clerk’s Office. In 2019, 63.5 percent of Winnetka voters (2,251) said “no” to the district’s $90.6 million referendum.

“It is great to see Winnetka residents overwhelmingly support these critical investments for our children and our teachers,” said Sally Armbruster, co-chairperson of, via text message. “Further snd perhaps humbly, it seems this experience has set the foundation for a renewed and much-needed sense of community. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”

A diagram showing a new security vestibule planned for Greeley School.

Highland Park and Highwood voters gave North Shore School District 112 an empathic OK — unofficially 72 percent to 28 percent (10,814 to 4,199) — to issue $114.4 million in bonds to upgrade aging facilities and add safety and security improvements across 10 schools.

Six years ago, those same voters emphatically shut down D112’s $198 million referendum. Alexander Brunk was one of those dissenting voters in 2016. Now the D112 School Board president, Brunk is proud of the district’s approach in 2022.

“I’m really humbled by the confidence the voters showed in our district and our vision for the community,” he said. “It has been a long road to get to this point and we put forward a plan that we believe in.

“We are thrilled by the results.”

Winnetka D36 has estimated that the bond sale would increase property-tax bills $929 for every $1 million of home value.

The $59.4 million in proceeds will fund districtwide capital improvements, such as HVAC replacement, front-entry security vestibules, ADA-compliance work, and electrical and technology upgrades.

The funds would also support new facilities — three classrooms, a gymnasium and cafeteria — at Crow Island. Hubbard Woods would also get a cafeteria.

D36 Superintendent Dr. Kelly Tess and School Board President Emily Rose sent a “thank you” message to community members following the successful evening.

“It is evident that our community is dedicated to continuing the incredible legacy of supporting progressive education, investing in our current and future students, ensuring we are poised to continue to recruit excellent educators, and protecting our beloved historic schools,” the message reads. “We appreciate the amount of time and dedication our staff, families and community members have spent engaged in both the research and process necessary to put forth the referendum on the ballot.”

According to estimates from North Shore D112 officials, with the passing of the referendum, homeowners in the district can expect to see an additional $569 for a $500,000 home lasting for the next 20 years.

A rendering of the proposed renovations for Ravinia Elementary, D112’s oldest facility.

The referendum defines the second phase of three-phase capital project. In Phase 2, the district will update five schools, including the district’s oldest and maybe most cherished, Ravinia Elementary School. Improvements during Phase 2 will last from 2023 through 2027 and also include security upgrades at all 10 schools.

“We are pleased that the residents of District 112 understood the importance of this referendum and the impact these funds will have on our more than 3,800 students,” D112 Superintendent Dr. Michael Lubelfeld said in a statement. “With these funds, we will drastically improve the quality of education we can offer through modernized facilities that benefit the growth and development of our students, teachers, and staff.” 

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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