Wilmette, Elections

Avoca voters not on board with $89.8 million referendum

It’s back to the chalkboard for Avoca District 37 officials.

Voters gave a resounding “no” Tuesday night to the district’s request to borrow $89.8 million in order to construct a new grammar school. Voters in opposition made up 75.2 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Cook County Clerk’s Office.

According to the results, Avoca voter participation (41.86%) far outpaced county participation (12.81%), and of the 2,105 votes cast for the Avoca referendum, 1,559 were in opposition and 515 (24.83%) in favor.

District officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The referendum earned opposition from a group of parents organized as Concerned Residents of Avoca 37 and Vote No Save Avoca. The group campaigned at board meetings and garnered media attention with their efforts. As the result became clear, a Facebook page called “Vote No Save Avoca” posted:

“Because of your actions, we were able to send a powerful message to the Avoca D37 School Board, Superintendent, and Ballot Initiative Committee. We had an impressive voter turnout, surpassing all other referendums on the ballot by over 10%!”

The Avoca School Board voted in December 2023 to place an $89.8 million referendum on the March ballot in support of a new elementary school. If approved, the funding would enable the district to build a pre-K through fifth-grade school in Wilmette near its sister school, Marie Murphy junior high. The new school would replace Avoca West in Glenview.

If the referendum passed, district residents with a $350,000 home would have seen an annual increase of approximately $1,100 on their property-tax bill, according to district estimates.

The construction of a new grammar school was one of three options developed by Avoca administration following a three-year review that included a facilities analysis and community feedback.

The district announced its intentions to move forward with significant facility improvements in May 2023 and ramped up conversations with the community. Officials then recommended a referendum for the new elementary school, which was the second of three options. The first option was to make security and other substantial upgrades at Avoca West and Marie Murphy at a cost of $55 million, while the most expensive option was to construct a new school districtwide school (preK-8) at a cost of well over $100 million.

This story will be updated on Wednesday, March 20.

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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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