It’s not easy to ring someone’s doorbell and ask them to vote to raise their own taxes. And it’s even harder to do it early on a gray, cold, blustery Saturday morning. But despite intermittent snow flurries, more than 35 people resisted the urge to sleep in as the campaign to pass the April 5 Riverside-Brookfield High School tax referendum moved into high gear.
Canvassers for Communities United to Support RBHS District 208 (CURB) hit the streets of Brookfield, La Grange Park and North Riverside on March 5 in what was expected to be the first of four Saturdays of canvassing for yes votes on the referendum.
District 208 school board member MariAnn Leibrandt is coordinating the canvassing effort. She said that she was pleased with the results of the first day of canvassing.
“It was positive,” Leibrandt said. “Without going into any detailed data, it was a positive thing out there.”
Going door to door Saturday were some of the top administrators at RB, including District 208 Interim Superintendent David Bonnette, RB Principal Pamela Bylsma and Business Manager Chris Whelton.
“It was very cold,” Whelton said, without commenting on how the canvassing went for him.
Bonnette and Bylsma did not return calls asking them to comment about their canvassing experience.
State law permits school employees to work for passage of a referendum on their own time and away from school property.
Also hitting the streets Saturday for the referendum were District 208 school board members Dan Moon and Larry Herbst as well as former District 208 school board member Nancy Chmell.
Moon was out in the cold in Brookfield for about four hours, going door to door with his wife, Caryl.
Moon said that among the people that he talked to who had an opinion about the referendum, about half were in favor and about half opposed.
“We were out there for four hours,” Moon said. “We were the last ones in. I actually didn’t do much of the talking. I shared knowledge of the budget situation as necessary, but Caryl did most of the talking.”
Raul Sanchez, the parent of a RB junior and of a seventh-grader, was one of the volunteer door knockers. By 11:30 a.m. he had obtained 10 “yes”es, only one “no” and a lot of not homes or not answering the door bell.
“I’m a parent at RB High School and also a parent at Gross, so I do have a vested interest in the referendum getting passed,” Sanchez said. “My kids’ education is very important. Good students often become good leaders. I think it’s important that we need to get out the vote and educate the parents.”
Erik Kramer, an 18-year-old senior at the high school, was one of several RB students who hit the streets to canvass.
“It was pretty split,” said Kramer, who canvassed in the Hollywood section of Brookfield. “Some people who were highly in favor of it and a few that were pretty resolute against it. So far nothing overwhelming. It was definitely 50/50. I’d say about half didn’t realize the referendum is even occurring.”
Kramer is organizing a student rally for the referendum that will take place this Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield.
More intensive canvassing is planned for the next three Saturdays, Leibrandt said.
Going door to door is just one technique CURB is using to build support for the referendum.
Other activities included manning information tables at RB events and holding information sessions with parent groups at all the schools that feed into RB.
“We’ve been covering sporting events,” Leibrandt said. “People are doing coffees and teas and going to different parent organizations in feeder districts.”
On Saturday Lisa Marciniak, the wife of District 208 school board President James Marciniak, was at a table at RB during the registration of next year’s incoming freshmen.
“We have such a huge group of people who have come together to work on this,” Leibrandt said.
There does not appear to be any organized group working against the referendum.