By Bob Uphues
Voters who reside in Komarek Elementary School District 94 are likely to have another referendum question on the ballot next spring, once again asking taxpayers to fund a bond issuance in order to expand and renovate the K-8 campus in North Riverside.
District 94 Superintendent Brian Ganan confirmed that officials are shooting to have a new referendum question on the ballot for the U.S. presidential primary on March 17, 2020.
In order to do that, the Komarek School Board of Education will need to approve a question for the ballot probably by sometime in December.
The first step will be to form a referendum steering committee in late August/early September, and Ganan said he really wants to increase the non-Komarek family representation on that committee.
"We need to get people from outside the Komarek community," said Ganan. "We had some on the last committee, but I think we were definitely missing that piece."
Anyone wishing to be considered for a place on the steering committee can call Ganan at 708-447-8030, ext. 103.
Support from outside the families whose children attend Komarek School will be crucial if the referendum next year is to have a chance at passing.
The first attempt at passing a referendum to fund $22 million in campus improvements ended in convincing defeat, with 59 percent of voters casting ballots against the measure.
Ganan said the steering committee will look again at the planned improvements to the campus and perhaps suggest changes to the scope of the project to the board of education.
"The steering committee will help out with that," said Ganan. "Right now, there hasn't been much change, but we need to gather input from the community and see where they're at."
After the steering committee is formed, school officials are planning to host several community meetings to outline the scope of work, provide information to community members about the physical state of the present campus and explain how the proposed improvements are more compatible with learning in the 21st century.
The most recent plan called for demolishing the oldest building on the campus, east of 13th Avenue, and building a new gymnasium and parking lot. The building west of 13th Avenue would have been expanded and the current sky bridge connecting the two buildings demolished.
In place of the sky bridge would be a larger structure housing a 3,000-sqaure-foot library. Officials had also contemplated closing 13th Avenue between 24th Street and the alley north of the school to provide more greenspace.
Komarek School District 94 serves North Riverside west of First Avenue and Broadview south of 19th Street and east of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad line.