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Dist. 303 referendum opposition battle complacency
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/21/2008 12:02 AM

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When Brian Litteral failed to get appointed to the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board last week, it marked the end of a frontal assault against the district's looming $294 million referendum and the beginning of a new strategy.

Litteral made his opposition to the potential tax increase clear before the interviews for Bob Lindahl's replacement occurred. He also guessed he had just about no chance of the current school board members selecting him to be their new colleague because of his views on the referendum.

Litteral was right. The board appointed Mike Vyzral, who will be seated at the next board meeting in January.

For Litteral and his fellow members of Citizens for Fiscal and Academic Responsibility, the fight to keep the referendum from ever getting to the April ballot is just beginning. The group already has distributed two rounds of fliers asking people to vote against any possible tax increase from the district.

The challenge now is to energize what CFAR believes is a silent majority of voters who think there's no chance a $294 million referendum will pass, especially in the current economy. But Litteral is urging that silent majority to not be complacent just sitting at home, waiting for the referendum to fail.

"A lot of people have told me, 'Hey, don't worry about it. This will never fly.' But that's where the risk is," Litteral said. "If this referendum gets to the ballot, and people don't show up, the district can pack the ballot box with votes from teachers and staff at all the school polling places."

Litteral and the dozen core members of CFAR are trying to bring in as many opponents from throughout the district into their group as possible in hopes of showing up at the January school board meetings to shout the referendum down during public comment periods.

"When does the sanity seep in here?" Litteral said. "I have yet to have anybody articulate how any of this is going to impact our test scores. Let's put together a plan specifically to raise test scores, and then we can have a referendum.

"Right now, I don't see the vision here. The vision is we're going to build stuff. Great school districts are not great because they have big, new buildings. More classrooms, more teachers, more aides, I'd vote for any of that of stuff."