By Terry Dean
Oak Park and River Forest High School will take on a greater financial share of the cost of the Oak Park Township Youth Interventionist program.
OPRF will pay about $5,000 more, or a 2 percent increase. That'll bring the high school's contribution to the program to about $35,000, under a new funding model created by the township. The townships of Oak Park and River Forest, majority funders of all the jurisdictions involved in the program, will also increase their shares — by about $12,000 for Oak Park and $2,100 for River Forest.
David Boulanger, Oak Park Township supervisor, is pleased that the high school and other taxing bodies are continuing to support the program. The River Forest Park District, however, remains on the fence as far as funding, Boulanger noted. Park board commissioners are scheduled to discuss the program sometime this month.
Some park commissioners have argued that other taxing bodies, particularly Oak Park and River Forest townships, should pay for the program. Youth interventionists, they insist, falls out of their jurisdiction.
Tom Cargie, vice president of the River Forest Park District Board of Commissioners, said as much in a recent guest column in Wednesday Journal.
"While I wholeheartedly feel that the program is worthwhile and should be continued, I believe that its costs should be borne fully by those taxing bodies, namely the Oak Park and River Forest townships, that are expressly intended by statute to address matters such as this," Cargie wrote.
Oak Park Township provides the most funding — 69 percent under the new model; with River Forest Township pitching in 17 percent. Boulanger estimated that 80 percent of the program's youth clients, about 50 kids at any given time, are OPRF students while 20 percent are middle-schoolers. Boulanger said he believes the townships have addressed the concerns of commissioners and maintains that youth issues affect everyone in both communities.
"If there happens to be an incident that occurs just outside the high school, it's really not about whose turf it's on. We all want to intervene, whether it happens in the community, someone's home or the school," he said.