Community Engagement FAQs


What is All In for Avoca 37?
All In for Avoca 37 has been a community-led public engagement program that brings parents, families, and community members together to build the future of District 37 by developing solutions for key challenges facing the District, including aging buildings, limited funding and the changing needs of students today.

Who participated?
Everyone in the Avoca community was encouraged to attend our community engagement activities, get an inside look at our schools and participate in our online surveys. Whether you have students in our schools or not, the quality of schools is important to everyone and contributes to the quality of life in our community; that’s why we needed to hear everyone’s voice.

Who has been leading All In for Avoca 37?
All In for Avoca 37 has been a community-led effort spearheaded by a facilitating team of more than 30 parents, staff, community leaders and district leaders. This facilitating team was responsible for developing and implementing an engagement process that informed the community about these options and gathered input about them from as many community members as possible. The facilitating team also led the preparation of the final report to the Board of Education.

Who led All In for Avoca 37?
The members of the All In for Avoca 37 facilitating team include:

Peter Leckerling - Parent/Guardian, Chair  Betsy Harootyan - Parent/Guardian
Lina Patel - Community Member Melanie Morrow - Parent/Guardian, Canvassing Co-Chair
Eliza Stubbs - Teacher & Parent/Guardian
Melina Papadopoulos - Parent/Guardian
Joel Raynes - Community Member
Eileen Obadia - Staff Member & Parent/Guardian, Comms Co-Chair
Alex Greenberg - Parent/Guardian
Danny Zenisek - Parent/Guardian
Linda Paradise - Parent/Guardian
Joseph Lai - Parent/Guardian 
Ruth Swibel - Parent/Guardian
Susan Lasky - Community Member 
Andrea Bialk - Teacher & Parent/Guardian
Randi Gurian - Community Member
Som Kundu - Parent/Guardian
Maureen LaRaviere - Community Member
Ann Heinz - Parent/Guardian
Rachel Goodman - Community Member
Gil Gibori - Board Member & Parent
Beth Dever - Chief School Business Official, ex-officio member
Dorothy Elfring - Board Member & Parent
Sandra Arreguin - Superintendent-Elect, ex-officio member
Sadie Dobrozsi - Parent/Guardian
Kaine Osburn - Superintendent, ex-officio member 
Becky Cross - Teacher, Canvassing CoChair
Helen Miller - Teacher, Comms CoChair
Stephanie Rick - Teacher & Parent/Guardian
John Cox - Parent/Guardian
Darren Persino - Teacher

How were the All in For Avoca 37 Open Houses structured?
The Open Houses hosted by All in For Avoca 37 were structured so attendees could come anytime during the event and stay for as long or as little as they like. Participants will have the opportunity to tour the host school and get an inside look at the building.

Following the tour, there were opportunities to learn more about the finance and facility challenges facing the district, ask questions, and to share your perspective on Avoca 37’s challenges. Attending an Open House was the only way you could be certain to get accurate information about the challenges facing District 37.

Where were the Open Houses held?
All In for Avoca 37 sessions took place at either Avoca West Elementary or Marie Murphy School on
the following dates:

● Saturday, October 14 from 9 a.m. to noon at Avoca West Elementary
● Tuesday, October 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Marie Murphy School
● Wednesday, October 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Avoca West Elementary
● Wednesday, October 25 from 3 to 7 p.m. at both Avoca West Elementary and Marie
Murphy School


What are the financial challenges the district is facing?
The District’s current financial status and trajectory do not put it in a position to sustain funding levels without drawing on financial reserves, which over time will jeopardize the District’s ability to operate.

More than 90% of District 37’s revenue comes from local sources, primarily property taxes and fees charged to families. Expenses are increasing at a rate that is outpacing revenues, which is not sustainable for any school district let alone a small elementary district like Avoca.

However, without drawing from reserves, the District does not have the financial means to pay for substantial capital expenditures, some of which will become absolutely necessary to the functioning of schools in the near future, e.g. roofs, heating and cooling infrastructure, flooring, technology infrastructure, etc.

Additionally, there are no funds to upgrade facilities to meet contemporary standards to support student learning or to support the programs that have made Avoca a destination school district. In short, Avoca’s facilities are falling woefully behind the quality of facilities provided by neighboring districts.

What is the financial status of Avoca 37?
In 2022, for the first time in six years, Avoca was categorized in “Recognition” status by the State of Illinois. From 2017 through 2021, Avoca District 37 was designated as being in “Early Warning” or “Review” by the State of Illinois. These designations are assigned to school districts determined to have unstable finances based on the State of Illinois’s analysis. Only in 2022, thanks to a combination of increased state revenue, a one-time influx of COVID funds and expenditure restraint, did the District gain “Recognition” status from the State. It is unlikely that Avoca can stay in "Recognition" status based on its current financial projections.

What has District 37 done up to this point to control costs?
District 37 faced operating deficits for the five years up to and including the 2020-21 school year. The District took proactive steps to address those deficits, including:

● Increasing student fees (highest student fees among NT sender districts)
● Not replacing or not filling certain administrative positions
● Reducing professional development expenditures
● Limiting salary growth and benefit expenditures for teachers
● Eliminating two full-time employee positions from K-5 due to restructuring of the schedule

The steps listed above resulted in approximately $900,000 in financial savings, which represents just less than 5% of the District’s operating budget. Given that approximately 80% of the District’s budget is for staff, any additional meaningful budget reductions would need to include staffing, which would reduce programming and increase class size.

What are the facility challenges the district is facing?
District 37's buildings no longer meet the needs of students and staff and do not support the district's goal of providing schools that are safe and foster the physical, mental and intellectual growth of students.

The District does not have the financial means to address these challenges, which include:

● Student safety
     ○ Inadequate secure entrances and exits
     ○ Aging, outdated doors, windows and related hardware
     ○ Too few security cameras inside and outside the buildings
     ○ Outdated communication systems

● Physical and mental well-being
     ○ Inadequate gymnasium, cafeteria, and commons space
     ○ Poor Air quality
     ○ No air conditioning at Avoca West
     ○ Inadequate natural light
     ○ Limited and aging outdoor learning and activity space
     ○ Some spaces experience rodent incursions

● Intellectual growth
     ○ Outdated classroom furnishings
     ○ Classroom spaces too small for today’s teaching and learning
     ○ Lack of space for collaboration and flexibility
     ○ Inadequate spaces for science learning
     ○ Out-of-date library spaces
     ○ Inadequate space for band/orchestra programs
     ○ Inadequate technology infrastructure
     ○ Deteriorating science labs
     ○ Spaces designed for more collaborative and/or specialized student learning

● Energy and infrastructure
     ○ Buildings, especially Avoca West, are not energy efficient
     ○ Indoor light is not updated
     ○ Electrical infrastructure cannot support technology usage
     ○ All flooring, including in high-traffic areas, requires complete replacement
     ○ Large outdoor surfaces need complete replacement in some areas

Despite consistent maintenance, our buildings are facing basic maintenance and infrastructure challenges such as deteriorating tuckpointing, failing plumbing, aging electrical systems, ADA accessibility issues, aging bathrooms, cracking concrete and drywall, and aging roofs.

When were our schools built and updated?
There have not been significant updates to Avoca West in nearly 20 years, and it has been more than 30 years at Marie Murphy. Many of the original classrooms from the 1950s and 1960s are still actively used.

What options were considered for addressing District 37’s facility challenges?
After reviewing the June 2023 report from the Facilities and Finances Committee, the Board of Education asked All In for Avoca 37 to gather feedback on the following options for addressing the District’s facility challenges:

     ● Option A - Complete only the necessary maintenance for standard operations, security enhancements, interior space renovations, and minor additions for an improved learning environment. This option would increase taxes for the owner of a $350,000 home in the district by approximately $55 per month.
     ● Option B
- Build a new elementary school on the Marie Murphy property to replace Avoca West Elementary school and refurbish portions of Marie Murphy School. This option would increase taxes for the owner of a $350,000 home in the district by approximately $88 per month. (Now estimated to be $82/month based on dropping interest rates.)
   ● Option C - Build a new Pre-K through 8th grade school on the Marie Murphy property to replace Avoca West Elementary and Marie Murphy School. This option would increase taxes for the owner of a $350,000 home in the district by approximately $118 per month.

How were these options developed?
A team of community members, board members, staff, and professional experts conducted an in-depth review of the District’s financial and facility status during the 2022-23 school year. This included community town halls and forums to gather feedback.

When this review was complete, they developed options for courses of action the District could take to build long-term financial and facility stability.

Why did the Board choose to pursue Option B?
Community Engagement and Feedback, along with the results related to price, efficiency, and effectiveness, led the Board to conclude that Option B was the best long-term solution capable of garnering community support. The Facilitating Team concluded its report with this statement:

The first charge from the school board was to “learn about and understand the options available for how the District can provide financing and facilities that maximize educational impact over time while providing the best long-term financial advantage to the community”. The committee believes that Option B or Option C are the better paths to secure our schools' and community's success over the long term.

The second charge from the school board was to “develop and implement an engagement process that informs the community about these options and gathers input about them from as many community members as possible”. Based on community feedback only Option A and Option B appear to be capable of
“garnering community support."

In looking holistically at all that the Facilitating Team report encompassed and the details of the community survey of more than 700 community members, along with the costs and impact of each option, the Board concluded it is in the best interest of the students, community, and staff to seek support for Option B through a bond referendum to raise $89,800,000.

What are the detailed advantages Option B will provide?
On a scorecard of high importance or impact issues developed by the Facilitating Team, Option B hit 33 out of 46 possible points. In addition to all the points available under Option A, Option B advantages include:

● Efficiency and benefits of one Avoca campus
     ○ Improved operational support due to one campus
     ○ Improved security support due to one campus
● Greatly increased short term and long term energy savings due to installation of geothermal and solar options (at new building)
● Improved indoor air quality (at new building)
● Adequate storage so hallways have increased egress for safety and security
● Adequate elementary classroom space (provided by new building) so instruction does not need to take place in the hallway
● Actual instructional space for orchestra and band programs
● Adequate size elementary cafeteria to meet the needs of current learning schedule (The current Avoca West cafeteria is too small)
● Lower long-term costs due to the need within 15 years to begin to address concerns at a refurbished Avoca West building compared to 30 years for a new Avoca West building

What will happen to Avoca West if Option B passes?
The District owns the property where Avoca West is located and the Board wants to see the property continue to support the neighborhood’s health and vitality. Of course, the Board also has a fiduciary duty and cannot allow the ownership of that property to result in expenditures that would burden taxpayers or impede investing in important District programming.

The Board of Education wants to balance these priorities and has agreed the following principles should drive its decision-making regarding the use of the Avoca West property:

● Public use of the property should continue if at all possible;
● Natural, open space should be available on the property;
● The property should enhance or maintain the value of the surrounding homes;
● Dialogue with the community and neighborhood should be part of the decision-making process;
● The District should receive payment for the property that sustains fiscal health.

Before making any decision, the District will convene public meetings, specifically inviting residents of the Avoca West neighborhood, to develop feedback on the best ways for the District to ensure use of the property adheres to the above principles.

If there is no school in East Glenview will I attend school in another district?
No. The boundaries for Avoca School District 37 and for New Trier Township High School District 203 will remain exactly the same as they are now. Not having a school on the current Avoca West site will not affect that status in any way, shape, or form.

How will school carry on normally if we tear down Avoca West and build a new school on the Marie Murphy campus?

One of many advantages to building a new school on the Marie Murphy property is that it is the least disruptive to daily school operations. Specifically, students would continue to attend school at Avoca West at its current location, while a new school is built next to Marie Murphy. This is a standard operational approach in such situations, and the District would collaborate closely with the Village and with its construction manager to develop procedures and practices that maximize safety and minimize disruption during construction.

How will building the new elementary school on the Marie Murphy campus impact traffic there?
While it is too early to undertake a formal traffic study, the initial plans already include a widening of Illinois Road adjacent to the Marie Murphy property, which would do the most to alleviate congestion. The Marie Murphy property is the only middle school property in the township that has the roadway limitations it currently faces. An additional lane would mitigate this problem. Additionally, once the traffic study is completed and an internal and external traffic plan is developed, the schools can still use staggered schedules to minimize traffic congestion. For a comparison, Wilmette Junior High School in District 39 enrolls more students than all of Avoca District 37 and is across the street from Regina Dominican High School.

What are the advantages of having the elementary school on the Marie Murphy campus?
● Construction can occur with a greater degree of safety while students still attend Avoca West Elementary without any disruption;
● Security - Securing one campus property instead of two will be simpler and easier to support over time;
● Safety support for both schools will be enhanced because more maintenance and administrative staff will be proximate to both schools than is now the case. For instance, if there were a fire or environmental emergency, there would be more operational and safety support immediately available for both schools;
● Coordination for safety support from first responders would be more efficient and effective because the administration would coordinate with two first responder departments instead of four;
● Custodial and maintenance operations would be more efficient with the two buildings being next to one another, from cleaning to maintenance and engineering to plowing and shoveling, less staff power would be required;
● Food service operations will be more efficient and effective with the two schools being only hundreds of yards from each other;
● Staff and administration collaboration and support, from traveling teachers to meetings, will be more efficient, effective, and less time-consuming than is currently the case - especially vertical collaboration between teachers in the elementary and middle schools;
● Student mentoring - older students reading to younger students, supporting learning in other subject areas, modeling for younger students - will be possible now that the schools are proximate.

What are the options for funding Option B?
Any of the options for addressing District 37’s facility needs will require a voter-approved tax increase. The Board has chosen to conduct a bond referendum. In the case of Option B, the District will issue bonds equal to the amount needed to pay for construction, and will pay off those bonds over a twenty-five (25) year period. The tax increase ($350,000 home in the district by approximately $82 per month) will last for the term of the bond repayment. This approach works very much like a home mortgage. (Repayment estimates change based on interest rates in the bond markets.)

Is doing nothing to address our facility needs an option?
No. Doing nothing is not an option. When the Board of Education reviewed the options presented by the Facilities and Finances Committee in June of 2023, the committee recommended, and the Board agreed, that taking no action was not an option.

Operating surpluses, which are low and projected to decline over future years, will not be enough to address the estimated $30 million in life, safety and maintenance upgrades needed to ensure buildings remain operational, and this would not address other basic needs of learning spaces, especially at Avoca West.

Can District 37 use budget surplus to address any of the financial or facility needs?
Current financial projections indicate that any anticipated budget surplus will not be enough to cover any of the District’s financial or facility needs.

From 2016 through 2020, District 37 experienced an operating deficit where expenditures were higher than revenues. In 2021, COVID dollars, combined with a small increase in state funding, allowed the District to temporarily eliminate the deficit. Projections show that the budget can stay balanced until 2025 barring any dramatic challenges. However, without a change in funding, revenues will not keep up with the current rate at which expenditures are increasing.

The total operating surplus projected through FY28 is approximately $3.7 million, far short of the $30 million needed to only complete the life, safety and maintenance projects that ensure buildings remain operational, let alone the $25 million required to update science labs and libraries and build adequate learning spaces for existing programs like music, strings, and pre-school.

Can District 37 just use operating reserves to address the financial or facility needs?
School districts like Avoca, which are funded primarily by local property taxes, receive most of their tax revenue twice a year, when it’s collected by Cook County. As a result, District 37 must keep enough of its budget – a minimum of 50% of its operating expenses – in reserve to ensure it will have adequate cash flow to fund operations without borrowing money throughout the course of the year.

Using operating reserves to fund facility improvements erodes those operating reserves, creating
cash flow problems that would keep the District from being able to meet payroll, cover health benefit
expenditures, and pay vendors in a timely manner.

Can you review the costs to property tax payers one more time if the referendum passes?
The owner of a $350,000 home would invest an additional $19/week to support these improvements. The ballot language on the March 19, 2024 ballot is as follows:

Shall the Board of Education of Avoca School District Number 37, Cook County, Illinois, build and equip a new school building to replace the Avoca West School Building, alter, repair, renovate and equip the existing Marie Murphy School Building, including constructing security improvements and installing access controls, replacing portions of roofs, flooring, plumbing and electrical systems, renovating science labs, classrooms and other instructional spaces, updating instructional technology, improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and increasing accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, improve school sites and issue
bonds of said School District to the amount of $89,800,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?

If approved, the Board will issue bonds for the amount of the construction costs and the property tax
increase will go ONLY to paying off the bonds over a 25-year period. If interest rates go down
between now and when bonds are issued, the property tax increase could be less than projected.
Additionally, if the District’s financial reserves exceed its fund balance policy limit, the Board is
required to consider at a public meeting the abatement (suspending) of property tax payment for the
bond in a given year.

How can I find out more?
● If you would like to see the Facilitating Team’s full report, please click here.
● If you would like to see the Facilitating Team’s Board presentation, click here.
● If you would like to see an in-depth presentation of the survey data, click here.


When is the election?
Election Day is Tuesday, March 19, 2024. The Avoca School District 37’s bond proposal requires a simple majority (50.0% + 1 to pass). It is important for every voter to become informed and understand the proposal on the ballot, and then exercise their right to vote. Every vote is important. That’s why it is crucial that you remember to vote on that day and remind your friends and family to do the same.

How does an individual register to vote?
Information on how to register to vote can be found online via the Cook County Clerk’s website. Individuals can register to vote online, via mail, and in person. Please check the website for specific details or call (312) 603-0906.

Who can vote?
All registered voters in the Avoca District 37 are eligible to vote in this election. Local residents may also request absentee ballots and find a complete list of election dates by visiting the Cook County Clerk’s website.

When does early voting begin?
Early voting will be available at some locations starting Feb. 21, 2024. Hours and locations are available on the Cook County Clerk’s website. Regular early voting hours start March 4 and end March 18.

How can an individual vote by mail?
Any eligible Cook County registered voter may vote by mail. Details are available on the Cook County Clerk’s Vote By Mail Page or by calling (312) 603-0946

What is a bond referendum?
A bond is much like a personal home loan, and is a way for government entities, such as school districts, to borrow money for large projects and repay them with future tax proceeds. An individual generally approaches a financial institution for a mortgage because they don’t have the means to pay for their home with one large initial payment.

Why is the community required to vote to improve our schools?
In Illinois, whenever a school district wants to issue bonds to build new or improve existing facilities, it must first seek the approval of voters in the district.

Where can I learn more?
Learn more at

I have a question. Who should I contact?
Email [email protected] or call (847) 728-4128.