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Peggy Hinckley

Former Gary emergency manager Peggy Hinckley

In 1974, I had the good fortune to be hired as a first grade teacher at Meister Elementary in River Forest. It began a 15-year love affair with the River Forest community as I eventually became superintendent in 1984. I went on to serve three other communities as superintendent as well as emergency manager for the Gary schools takeover last year. All of my experience has taught me that River Forest's small neighborhood school environment is worth your support. Your “yes” vote for River Forest is critical to the future of River Forest students and the community at large.

Your River Forest school community size is ideal for your children in these ways:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • More individualized help for students, both remedial and advanced
  • More opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, one key to keeping students in school
  • Family-like atmosphere because of the close knit community environment

These are valuable reasons to vote “yes” on the River Forest referendum.

Please understand the political agenda in Indiana, forcing schools to use the referendum to fund schools and, if not successful, force consolidation of smaller districts. When I was superintendent from 1984-89, River Forest had the lowest assessed valuation per pupil in Indiana. Now 30 years later, the AV remains the lowest in the area. Why does this matter? If AV or the value of property increases, the tax rate decreases. Because we have no real industry in River Forest and it remains largely residential, we do not have the ability to generate more revenue without the referendum. What will your property be worth without neighborhood schools? How will you feel if your child is not a “River Forest Ingot?”

For those that say River Forest can cut expenses rather than raise taxes, please know that 90% of school budgets is people. So cutting teachers who work with your children or the custodians and food service staff that frequently live in the River Forest Community and help our children is not a viable solution. There are not enough cuts in a frugal budget to take away the need for the referendum. I know you want your children to remain River Forest Ingots with adequate funding to ensure their future success. Maintain that pride in the River Forest traditions that we all hold dear and vote “yes” on the River Forest referendum!

Peggy Chnupa Hinckley is former superintendent of River Forest Community School Corp. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.