The question on the April 4th ballot is whether taking on $106,000,000.00 in additional debt is the right approach. ParentsCare has not taken a position concerning the bond referendum, and the organization is not a political campaign for either side. 

Opinion Series: Jeff Brincat Weighs In on School Bond Referendum

Over the next few weeks, we will share different opinions from the community, pro, con, and other, to help you, the voter, consider the proposal from different angles. Please email [email protected] if you have an opinion on the bond you'd like us to share with the community. Our first submission is from ParentsCare member Jeff Brincat of Lake Forest.

I look at how to vote for this April 4th bond request by School District 115 from several different perspectives: as a taxpayer, a businessman, but mostly as a father with children attending Lake Forest public schools.

I want my children to get an excellent education. So I need assurances that the District leadership is using our taxpayer dollars with a laser-like focus on serving their educational needs.


Average Annual Spend / Student

Students/Admin Ratio

Students Proficient in Reading

Students Proficient in Math

Students Proficient in Science



76 to 1




New Trier


214 to 1






123 to 1






129 to 1






87 to 1




 *All data from the 2022 Illinois Report Card published by the IL State Board of Education

There is no lack of financial resources in District 115 today. We're already spending more per student each year than our peers. We have more administrators per student than comparable districts. Our teacher and administrator salaries are relatively very high (average teacher salaries are the 5th highest of the 866 school districts in the state according to 2022 Illinois Report Card data).

Yet, despite our robust funding, more than one-third of LFHS students are not at state standards for reading and math. One-quarter of kids at LFHS aren't where they need to be in science. Worse, our student proficiency scores trail those in neighboring districts. Look at the New Trier and Stevenson test scores in the table above. With our tremendous investment, our schools should not be underperforming comparable schools like New Trier and Stevenson. 

District 115 is spending more per student than comparable districts. Still, our student proficiency scores trail the scores of other area districts. As if this weren't troubling enough, if we were to compare our District's test scores with all districts statewide, our results would look even worse on a relative basis because we spend so much more per student. 

Now, the same folks responsible for this underperformance and questionable return on investment are asking District 115 families and taxpayers to entrust them with another $106 MM to be spent on a building (this amounts to about $3,645 per student per year for 20 years and more than $6,000/student when including the bond interest). It's only reasonable for the community to question whether the building should be our top priority right now. 

I believe the community should receive satisfactory responses to the following questions before considering how to vote for the bond: 

  • Is there a laser focus on academics? In light of the metrics above, how does the District prioritize reading, writing, math, and science? 
  • The Superintendent is a public employee responsible for delivering academic performance, not campaigning for a bond. Why is he focusing so much of his time and personal responsibility on passing the bond rather than improving academic performance? As a former school board member and head of a state regulatory body, I think it’s more appropriate for the Board members to advocate for the bond so the Superintendent can focus on his core responsibilities. 
  • What do the Board and Superintendent think academic success looks like for LFHS? Have they set a performance goal for themselves? Thus far, they are unwilling to communicate clear, measurable academic performance goals so the community can hold them accountable for performance, positively or negatively. 
  • Given the record funding the District receives now, what assurance do we have that this next $106+ MM is the highest and best use of funds to benefit the students?
  • According to the Illinois State Board of Education Data Library, the district 115 budget for 'general administration' increased by 80% in 2022. Why this massive uptick and an admin-to-student ratio so out of proportion with other regional schools? 
  • Given the scary downward trajectory of student readiness over the past three years, where is the pledge of accountability for turning it around?

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff families would do well to demand these questions be answered clearly and appropriately before considering whether to ante up another $106 MM for building improvements.

The kids are my number one priority, and perhaps that means we must invest a tenth of a billion dollars into their schoolhouse (including about $11 million on the administration building across town). But I'll only be convinced that is the case after seeing a more substantial commitment to academic performance from school leadership.

-Jeff Brincat lives in Lake Forest


Read the second piece in our opinion series from Matt Montgomery
Read the third in our opinion series from Erik Carrier