GLENVIEW, Ill. (CBS) — Several hundred students, their parents and staff from the two schools in West Northfield District 31 marched and rallied Tuesday, urging voters to approve a property tax increase.

Many of the students hoisted hand-lettered signs as they marched north from the Winkelman School, in Glenview, and south from the Field Middle School, in Northbrook.

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They met at the corner of Willow and Landwehr Roads, in Glenview, and elicited support from dozens of motorists, who honked as the group lined the curb. The students then released red balloons from a nearby parking lot.

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It was a civics lesson of sorts.

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“We want to grow up saying we had the best,” said one fifth-grade student.

The referendum is the second in a year. The first, which sought to increase the tax levy by $2.2 million, was defeated in April 2011 by a 4-to-1 margin. This referendum seeks less, only $1.55 million.

Rally organizer Susan Harrison said that if this referendum meets with defeat, the board is prepared lay off all teacher aides, will end all gifted programs, and will eliminate band and all extracurriculars, except for student council.

Opposition is extremely high in the Mission Hills gated community, which voted better than 12 to 1 against the referendum last year. Schools Supt. Alexandra Nicholson has already hosted one public meeting at Mission Hills, and plans several others before the March 20 primary.

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Despite its name, West Northfield Dist. 31 does not include any portion of the village of Northfield. Instead, it includes portions of Northbrook and Glenview.