A petition drive to force a referendum on whether Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 should issue $3 million in working cash bonds has fallen short. 

On Oct. 20, Kim Quilty, a resident of the Hollywood neighborhood and the leader of the petition drive, delivered petition sheets with 370 signatures to the school. 

However, Quilty needed to collect 2,053 signatures, which is 10 percent of the registered voters in District 208, in order to force the bond issue to referendum on the March primary ballot under the so-called back door referendum process.

Quilty said she decided to submit the petitions even though she knew the number of signatures fell far short of the required number, to show the school board that a significant number of people wanted the issue to be subject to a vote.

“It’s extremely hard to amass 2,000 signatures in less than 30 days,” Quilty said. “I submitted them just because I thought the school board should see them and see that people were concerned.”

About eight people helped gather signatures from various parts of the district.

“It was not just people who lived in Hollywood who were circulating,” Quilty said.

In gathering signatures, circulators heard from many people who had concerns about how District 208 has spent money in the past.

“They all had stories about how they thought RB had mismanaged some funds in the past,” Quilty said.

On Oct. 24, after the Landmark’s press time, the school board was expected to approve issuing the $3 million in working cash bonds and another $1.86 million in life-safety bonds.

At the same time as it issues the working cash bonds, the school district will be refinancing about $23 million of the debt it issued in 2007 to pay for the expansion and renovation of RBHS. 

By issuing the working cash bonds at the same time as it refinances existing debt at lower interest rates, the district will minimize the financial impact of the new debt to taxpayers.

The money raised by issuing working cash bonds can be used for any purpose, but Superintendent Kevin Skinkis has said that the main anticipated use would be to use the money to pay for a long-term lease for the ball fields directly north of the school that are currently owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District and are used by the Brookfield Zoo for overflow parking on especially busy days.

Skinkis hopes to work out a deal with the county to give RBHS exclusive use of those fields and hopes that RBHS can play home baseball and softball games there, right next the school. 

Currently both the baseball and softball teams play their home games at off campus locations.

Quilty said she wasn’t necessarily opposed to the district borrowing more money, but she thought that district voters should make that decision.

“I wanted an opportunity for the community to vote,” Quilty said.