Fight brewing over Berkeley School District 87’s construction of new buildings

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BERKELEY, Ill. — A fight over school funding is brewing Tuesday night in the western suburbs.

Just as Berkeley School District 87’s officials plan to break ground on a $105 million construction plan, a vocal contingent of parents said they hope to stop it.

Roger Romanelli and a group of parents said the district is wasting money by building and restoring schools when taxpayers are still suffering from the economic strains of the pandemic.

“We’re just devastated by this process, this process has been rammed down our throats from day one and we’re not going to stand for it,” said Romanelli.

The district covers portions of six different villages; Bellwood, Berkeley, Hillside, Melrose Park, Northlake and Stone Park. Last March, voters approved a referendum that allowed the school board to issue bonds for $105 million intended to build new buildings for Sunnyside Intermediate and MacArthur Middle School, plus fund other projects across the district.

“The referendum was supported by a large community group of parents and successfully passed with nearly 67% voter approval. Since that time, the Board and administration have worked to engage the community in the design process,” Supt. Terri Bresenahan said. “All legal bidding requirements have been thoroughly followed and the Board remains diligent in ensuring the fiscal management of the District’s resources.”

She promised “projects that will bring safer, more accessible, and more efficient learning spaces for all students in the District 87 community for decades to come.”

The buildings are scheduled to be completed by December 2022.

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