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updated: 3/16/2011 5:39 PM

Volunteers building support for Dist. 11 tax increase

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Volunteers living in Medinah School District 11 have been working since January to turn the tide of public opinion by April 5, and convince voters to support an $8 million building referendum that would update two schools and eliminate a third.

The same measure was defeated by slightly more than 60 percent of voters in November. Voters also rejected a similar measure in 2004.

But this election season, a group calling itself "Now is the Time in District 11" has created pamphlets, signs and a website,, to support the measure. They have also canvassed neighborhoods to explain why they believe voters should approve it.

"Part of it is, by consolidating, we could have a savings from a principal and other administrative salaries," said volunteer Mark Layne. "If you can run leaner and meaner with more bang for your buck, that's always a good idea."

Most of the $8 million would fund construction of a wing at Medinah Intermediate School, which would then house the district's primary school. The existing Medinah Primary would be eliminated, and the district is unsure if the building would be rented or sold.

Remaining money would fund major security and traffic safety upgrades to Medinah Middle School.

Officials said district property taxes would increase by roughly $156 a year for the owner of a $350,000 home.

While "Now is the Time" was not organized when the measure was on the November ballot, a group of opposing residents launched a website and displayed signs against the referendum.

Their site has not been updated so far for the April 5 election, and both Layne and Superintendent Joe Bailey said they've spotted only one sign this year opposing the measure.

But in the previous election, opponents cited factors like the sluggish economy and well-maintained facilities as reasons to reject a tax hike.

Layne said District 11 has done a good job keeping up buildings built in the 1960s and '70s, but it's time to move forward.

"If you look at how much education delivery has changed since these buildings were made, we've come such a long way in terms of technological advancement and active learning style that kids need to compete at the high school and college level," said Layne. "These buildings weren't designed with that in mind."

An informational open house on the referendum will be at 6:30 p.m. March 24 at Medinah Middle School, 700 E. Granville Ave., Roselle, before the board of education meeting.

Whatever voters decide on April 5, Bailey said this referendum has sparked community involvement he has never seen before in District 11, which is a win in itself.

"Regardless of the outcome of the vote, I hope those people who are involved stay involved to help us to be a better district for decades to come," Bailey said. "To me, that's the most exciting part."