Frequently Asked Questions

How was this plan developed, and what is included?
Our community collaborated on a plan to solve our urgent infrastructure challenges. Working together, we developed a fiscally responsible long-term plan that will allow us to improve educational environments, better maintain our building, and empower our teachers to fully implement 21st century learning for our students. 

If the referendum is successful, we will be able to:

  • Fix Our Aging Infrastructure and Keep Our Children Safe
  • Reduce Long-Term Maintenance Costs
  • Provide 21st Century Learning Environments for Our Students

We will be able to address urgent life safety, infrastructure, and mechanical needs, leading to a safer, better-maintained school. This includes investments in heating and air conditioning, roofs, floors, electrical, energy efficiency, asbestos abatement, and safer locker rooms. We will also be able to address plumbing needs including bathrooms and drinking fountains, which is especially important after lead was found in our water. This will provide healthier water for students, safer and more accessible bathrooms, and access to drinking fountains and bottle filling stations. And we will be able to improve classrooms and create new 21st century learning spaces including a STEM lab, library media center and maker space. This will allow our staff to fully implement our modern curriculum and will lead to increased student achievement.

Why is this referendum necessary?
While we do our best to provide our students a 21st century education, our building holds our teachers and students back. Built in 1954, our aging school building has had few infrastructure updates over the past thirty years. 

We’ve maintained our mechanical systems so well they’ve lasted way beyond their life expectancy, but now replacements are needed as they’re so old we can’t even get parts for some of them anymore, leading to hot, stale air in some classrooms while others are very cold. We have lead in some of our water sources and asbestos still in the building. Our science lab is so old we’ve had to shut down all the sinks and gas burners, and our library is two former classrooms with the middle wall removed and some bookshelves thrown in. Our building isn’t ADA accessible, forcing special needs students to crawl or be carried up the stairs. And our 70-year-old bathrooms are so run down we have students who won’t use the bathroom at school, they hold it until they get home.

How will the referendum impact my taxes?

To achieve the needed improvements, District 79 placed a $10.9 million referendum on the ballot in the upcoming November 3rd election. The average taxpayer in District 79 will see an approximate tax impact of $252/year for 20 years. Please visit the tax calculator to view your tax impact.  

How do you vote?
Please check the Cook County Clerk’s website to find out if you are registered to vote, where your polling place is, and where and when early voting occurs in your community.  If you are not registered to vote, and are eligible to vote, you may register at your polling place on election day, November 3, with two pieces of identification

How is Pennoyer going to guarantee 21st century learning if they are stuck in a 1950s building? 
Over the past four years, we’ve refreshed our curriculum and implemented a 1:1 technology program that ensures every child has the resources they need to learn. We didn’t simply replace pencils and paper with devices—we fully integrated technology into our classrooms and lessons. But while we do our best to provide our students a 21st century education, our building holds our teachers and students back. A successful referendum would empower our teachers to fully implement 21st century learning for our students.

It appears from all I have been able to read and hear that our school does not have the money to repair all that is wrong with our aging school. What if the referendum is unsuccessful and the school continues to decline because we cannot fund the repairs needed?

If the referendum does not pass, there will need to be reductions to the budget to begin the immediate life safety work.  Other projects will be prioritized and completed as afforded by the budget.  We will not be able to address all the issues at once, mechanical systems, plumbing, fixtures, and other building infrastructures will continue to decline until we have the funds to address them.  

Will referendum monies be used to pay teacher and administrator salaries?
No. Referendum monies can only be used for construction, materials for the building, and site improvement.