OPRF to verify residency of all families


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Editor's note: This article has been corrected from the Jan. 30 print version.

Homeowners and renters with children enrolled at Oak Park and River Forest High School better start digging out their leases and property tax bills.

For the upcoming school year, all families will be asked by the high school to come in and verify where they live. The new residency verification process has been discussed by the administration and the school board since fall 2012.

The District 200 school board approved the new system on Jan. 24.

Every family with a child enrolled will be required to verify their residency for the 2013-2014 academic year. The high school will do a one-year pilot of the revised system before deciding if it should be continued permanently.

The processing period will take place in April under the revised system, with families asked to bring documentation to the school. Under the previous system, only the parents of incoming freshmen and transfers were required to verify where they live. Leases were checked monthly but homeowners were never asked to prove where they live.

Administrators said the change was needed to help improve a flawed system, where not all families provided timely documents when requested. And asking only renters, not homeowners, to prove where they live, administrators admit, created perceived inequity issues.

The administration estimates it will cost $30,000 to do residency checks in the new system. They also insist the school will save money in the long run by having staff spend less time trying to do sporadic verifying throughout the year.

D200 board members Sharon Patchak-Layman, John Phelan and Amy McCormack voted against the change. Patchak-Layman argued instead for a one-year pilot where only freshmen and leases are checked and then deciding the following school year, based on the results, if all families should be checked. The board ultimately did not take up that recommendation.

McCormack wanted language placed in the policy stating that once a child has been enrolled, the school will not remove that child if a question is raised about where they live. The board, however, did not amend the motion to add that language. Phelan questioned the equity argument, insisting that the there's no evidence that the current system was intentionally biased to renters versus homeowners.

He also questioned whether the school was actually saving money with a new system.

Tanksley to speak at APPLE meeting

Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley will be the featured speaker at the APPLE parent group's monthly meeting next week. The chief is scheduled to talk about how students can make better choices, and how parents can help kids make them. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, at OPRF, 201 N. Scoville, in the faculty dining room. Dinner is served from 6:30-7 p.m., with the meeting beginning shortly thereafter.

D90 schools on state honor roll

All three schools in River Forest District 90 have been named to the 2012 Illinois Honor Roll for exemplary academic performance.

It's the fourth consecutive year Roosevelt Middle School, as well as Lincoln and Willard elementary schools have been recognized. The schools were among 454 statewide to earn the Academic Excellence Award. Presented by the Illinois State Board of Education, the awards recognize schools that have maintained very high achievement levels over at least three years.

Julian, Brooks compete in Vex Robotics

Students from Julian Middle School were among the top-ranked teams at the annual VEX Robotics competition in Oak Park on Jan. 26. Brooks Middle School's team, meanwhile, made it to the finals in the regional competition over the weekend but fell short of winning. The Oak Park event is sponsored by the Oak Park Education Foundation. The 8th annual "Battle of the Bots" took place at Julian, 416 S. Ridgeland. More than 300 people attended. Students from Julian and Brooks have previously battled, but this year student teams from Chicago and neighboring suburbs were invited to compete. The teams competed with their student-built, remote-controlled robots. The three top-ranked teams were: Kelly Green Team (Julian), Orange Team (Julian) and The Terminators (Brooks). The Terminators competed in the regional competition on Feb. 2 in Batavia.

Reader Comments

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Bob Fiedler from Chicago IL  

Posted: October 22nd, 2013 4:37 PM

When I went to OPRF there were class mates that used Oak Park and did not live in. Oak Park and got away with it. I think its a very good way of keeping out the ones who don't belong there.

Identity from OP  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 6:10 PM

@Mademelaugh: It was tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek. Glad that you enjoyed it. (For the record, however, I don't think it's too much trouble to provide ID for most things and I'm tired of the partisan drama from all sides every time anyone suggests ID. Just do it. No big deal really.)

made me laugh  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 10:52 AM

Identity, you made me laugh when you compared background checks for buying and owning a gun to checking ID for enrolling in school and voting. I hope you were just caught up in the moment and really can see the difference. If not, I'm worried about your ability to reason.

resident (and I can prove it)  

Posted: February 8th, 2013 10:39 AM

Verify residency sounds like a good idea. But what is the cost/benefit? Will the staff cost of sifting through all those documents result in a significant savings? Will the number of kids removed mean that classes will no longer be filled to the max? Or will the cost of verification become one more reason we need to raise taxes?

Jim from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 11:57 AM

Dylan, culture can shape wealth or poverty. Jewish culture embraces learning, and I'll bet Jewish families rank above average in income. Here's a contrast in OPRF's cafeteria: A group of black students at a table. A freshman says she just got an "A," and one of the down-and-out culture says, "You tryin' be like whitey?" It's happened and it debases education's value. Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty utterly failed to reshape culture for the better. The tough road is to transform culture .

Occupy Someplace Else from OP  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 5:58 AM

Dylan, isn't there a gathering of disenfranchised "OCCUPY ____" post-college kids you can go talk to? Then you can all be utopian, frustrated, and unfocused together! Leave these conversations to tax-paying adults....

ATP from OP  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 5:53 AM

Dylan, thank you for making your viewpoint on the issue so clear. But, while you accuse others of "disgust," it seems that your share a similar brand of disgust for those that don't share your views. Yes, we all want a utopian and completely fair and balanced society. Sadly, that's not how the world works. So, until you can share an actionable idea of how to get there from here, please refrain from your lecturing. I simply don't need it and hear it as the useless whining that it is.

Dylan Bellisle from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 8:43 PM

Uncommon, The more I read your comments, the more dysfunctional it seem that you are. Your comments are veiled with hate and ignorance. No one is expecting to eliminate poverty, but we can do something about it. There will always be a lot of things bad with the world, that doesn't mean we don't do anything about it. There will always be terrorism, does that mean we shouldn't try to stop it? There will always be rapists and child molesters, does that mean we shouldn't try to prevent it? WOW. Poor people in the US have AC, food, tvs and clothes? Thats amazing. To be poor doesn't mean a dirt floor. I have worked with many a poor people. One thing you are dead wrong on is that many actually DO NOT have cars. Cellphones are cheap, and easier to have and keep compared to landlines. Poverty in the United States is about not having enough to live a life of growth. Poverty means probably living on food stamps. It means not having decent access to healthcare. For many its not having enough food. Go look at the facts. Unfortunately, I doubt you will based on your comments. It must be hard to live life with so much disgust for others....

Dylan Bellisle from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 8:34 PM

Tax payer, you said " There are countless communities in poor areas around the world that do not have the educational issues some US districts have, yet they function with much less. My friends teach these kids, they know." I have taught and been in schools here and broad, in poor communities. Not sure what you are getting at. The issue is the lack of opportunity. I have friends with college degrees in other countries, that have lower standards of living, that have been unemployed for years. Because there are no jobs, no opportunities. If this is wide-spread then there is less incentive for decent people to get a good education and live good lives.

Dylan Bellisle from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 8:30 PM

Uncommon, I am speaking from personal experience. I have worked at various schools in Chicago, and even in Oak Park. As Open Enrollment said, no one is talking about equality. Talking about equal opportunity. Expecting that has nothing to do with liberal or conservative. Since when did conservatism advocate for crappy schools? Come on now... Oh, and we are talking about grad school kids, not college kids. college kids have a higher level of responsibility and independence. I am sure you would be livid if you found out that your child went to school and they ran out of toilet paper. Parents shouldn't have to send their grade school, or high school kids to school with toilet paper in the United States of America. Period. And your veiled racist comment is unwelcome.

Identity from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 7:49 PM

Only the liberal mind can be so inconsistent that it demands complete background checks and identification to buy a gun, but can't be bothered to simply check identification for something like school enrollment, or voting. When will Oak Parkers stop this amazing, endless silliness?

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 3:28 PM

Uncommon, the point isn't making schools equal. Or people. Or genders. Or whatever. The point is to make sure everybody has the same opportunity regardless of background. Notice I didn't say eliminate the gap, I said improve and make it smaller. It's not utopian to ask for equal treatment under the law. We simply can't continue to underfund some schools and deny access to the ones that are funded properly like ours.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 3:23 PM

@Kidding It's a real scientific debate, look it up! And, to answer your question, the criticism is why not lock kids in a closet then? Right? You're missing that second part of the equation...nonshared environment. School! Preschool! Neighborhood. Activities. They're important. Do I think parents have no opportunity to help? No. But I think we need to pay more attention to those nonshared environments to improve the achievement gap. Equal access to all.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 3:22 PM

Dylan, what public schools don't have toilet paper? Please cite a specific example. All schools will not be equal - EVER. Maybe in your utopian dream land with liberal unicorn tears, but not in the real world. Heck, I barely had toilet paper in my dorm IN COLLEGE. That didn't stop anyone from getting an top notch education. We went out and bought it. If parents can afford to smoke a pack of Newports, they can buy toilet paper.

You have got to be kidding from Laugh out Loud  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 3:11 PM

@Open Enrollment ... Then what is the point of school. Everyone turns out the way they were meant to. You are so far left .. you went to the right. Google the word Calvinism! And by the way ... I am sure you spend hours and hours working with the unfortunate. Barf me back to the stone age.. Hypocrite anyone.

Dylan Bellisle from Forest park  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 3:10 PM

Angry taxpayer, Please give me a straight answer to this question what is naive, idealistic, communist, socialist, about expecting all children at public schools to have access to toilet paper and textbooks when there are some public schools that provide iPad's to all students ?

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 2:49 PM

Tax Payer, there is an ongoing debate among developmental psychologists, however, about how much influence parents really have. There is some evidence that it's actually very little and kids are most influenced by genes and "non-shared environment." Essentially siblings have different outcomes even though they grow up in the same house. Only bringing this up to offset all the "but it's the parents!" going on. It's a lot of factors.

Tax Payer  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 2:42 PM

Dylan, I agree that poverty is a big problem, but you are completely wrong about "culture" not being an issue. "culture" in this sense is about installing work ethic, a sense of personal accountability etc... Those things are NOT determined by "poverty", they are installed by parents. There are countless communities in poor areas around the world that do not have the educational issues some US districts have, yet they function with much less. My friends teach these kids, they know.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 10:22 AM

I agree that poverty isn't the problem per se. The problem is needing to level the playing field so everyone has access to the tools that will get them out of poverty. Some people will always be poor, true, and we can't leave them behind either. But as it relates to schools the issue is giving all students equal access the best possible resources. Then what they do is up to them.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 9:55 AM

There will always be poverty. There isn't a society in history that has eliminated poverty. And it is all relative. The "poor" here live middle class and upper middle class lifestyles in terms of material goods compared to any other nation. Most have a car. Most of TVs. Cellphones. Food. Air conditioning. Clothes. Xboxes. What is stuck in poverty is their mental state. Stop using poverty as an excuse for being dysfunctiional.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 9:22 AM

Dylan is not naive...his assessment of the problem is right on. However, as long as liberals hold on to the belief that more $ and a G program solves our poverty we will always have poverty. Education is the human rights issue of our time. For me I would love to see every family be empowered to send their kid to whatever school they want. If my taxes go up because of this, but real empowerment and results follow...then it is worth it. If i just pay more for the same...what a waste.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 9:14 AM

If we really cared...http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/04/michelle-rhee-my-break-with-the-democrats.html. The logic of this article is breathtaking. We give Pell grants to private colleges and medicare to private Drs. Why not vouchers? Do the schools matter or the kids? I for one have no issue with all kids attending OPRF as long as costs are shared. Our system of local pay and control is broken for the kids.

I love from Oak park  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 8:32 AM

I love how Dylan B. is always telling Oak Parkers how to vote, spend our money, etc., when he does not even live in Oak Park. Why doesn't he live in Oak Park? Taxes too high for you, bro? Move On not paying enough to afford the rents? What's the deal?


Posted: February 5th, 2013 7:28 AM

With more than a dozen candidates for the D200 school board, isn't it about time we hear from them on this issue. Come on, candidates, this is the time to distinguish yourselves and be transparent.

ATP (Angry Taxpayer) from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 5:34 AM

Dylan Bellisle: your concern for others and all of humanity is admirable. Sadly, it is also naive. Luckily, all you have is an opinion rather than an actual vote on this issue. Keep up your idealism -- it's adorable. But until the communist/socialist or whatever revolution, if you don't live in OP, you don't get to benefit from its taxpayer-funded schools. Period. Thank goodness this is being enforced. Finally.

Dylan Bellisle from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 11:51 PM

Taxpayer (and others), I am not sure what you mean by your repeated comments on "culture." The issue isn't culture. The issue is poverty. The majority of parents ANYWHERE want the best for their children. However, a lack of education on the part of the parents could prevent enrichment opportunities. The schools in poor neighborhoods are poorly equipped, this is a fact. Look at a disparity in terms of access to books and computers. I have been to these schools. I was at a school that had a shortage of toilet paper. How can you expect the most from students when you don't even provide them a way to be clean? Many of these youth grow up not seeing any opportunities. They are not in regular contact with adults that have interesting and exciting jobs/careers, or even not so exciting, but jobs/careers that pay well. So they don't hear about it, and therefore many may think those sort of jobs are not things they could ever dream of. But what do they hear about? Violence is an everyday occurrence for youth, and getting involved in violence, drugs, or gangs can be a way to feel important or powerful. You become what you see much of the time. But actual there is a cultural problem, a culture that accepts entrenched poverty, discrimination, and criminalization. Do poor people have responsibility for their life and future? Of course. But the wealthy and decision makers have a responsibility to do something about poverty. If they choose not to, and that has been their choice for over 30 years now, then its THEM who lack culture. Their culture says that its okay to have people in crushing poverty in the richest country in the world. And that goes to anyone else who has made an off-hand comment that only serves to insult others, instead of wondering why someone might do something that seems off-base. I think classist, racist, and masked-racist comments about laziness are off-base and a display of a "lack of culture."

OP rez  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 11:14 PM

OP Dad, Do you have this saved as a Word document, and then paste it every time you feel like making discriminatory statements? Oak Park is an awesome place with it's own set of unique problems, but if it's not for you, you should leave and go live somewhere like Wheaton or Hinsdale where practically everyone is white and privileged. Then you can all sit around and make derogatory generalizations about complete classes (races?) of people. You can also get in on the kids should wear Gucci scene.

OP Dad from OPRF is a dirt hole  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 10:03 PM

A overwieght loud OP mom just threw a loaded diaper in the street in front of myself and my child going to school. She was screaming at her 7 year old son. She had four children and no Dad. I am sure she is section 8. She is acting like an animal. She is the reas It's over .. we need to move. I picked up the diaper and threw it in a trash bin. My child told me to wash my gloves. A pig will always be a pig. There is no education gap. There is an social gap. They enjoy rolling in the mud

Tax payer  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 8:28 PM

Open, you said "creating a learning culture" etc... and that is largely developed through parents and the community. One of the main reasons kids fall behind is because of poor "learning culture". One of the reasons kids in the suburbs do well is due to positive "learning culture". When parents have expectations of their children to do well, kids tend to do well. When peers are doing well, it pushes kids to compete. When parents don't care, kids will see no value in learning, and do poorly.

Carole Morey from River Forest  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 5:39 PM

I hope that the documents requested for verification make sense. The current process for freshman requires utility bills, bank statements, etc. in addition to a property tax bill and drivers license. There seems to be desire to equate a property tax bill and a lease as an "equity issue," completely ignoring the fact that a property tax bill is issued by the county based on property records and anyone can print a blank lease off the internet and fill in their name and an address.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 5:35 PM

Yep, the parents are upset about the classrooms being more full. But open enrollment was purposefully brought on to ease the financial burden because students each come with funding. Then again about 75% of the districts are open enrollment so we were joining the crowd.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 5:25 PM

Open - Are you saying that the district profits on each out-of-district student? If so, it's easier to sell. It makes little sense if the receiving district is increasing enrollment just to break even. OPRF's crowded enough as is.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 5:18 PM

At the school where I grew up in another state there is a section of parents strongly opposed...but given that each student from outside the district pulls in about $6000 per pupil, it's also kept the district from having to go to the voters for a levy so soon.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 4:55 PM

Fair enough. I can't imagine how that could lead to any conflict!

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 4:49 PM

Usually open enrollment is done on a first-come, first-served basis with some preference for children of current teachers who live outside the district, etc..

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 4:36 PM

Even if students from outside of the district were able to bring their funding with them, the problem remains that OPRF isn't big enough to hold every student who might want to go here. The only way to keep numbers in line is selectivity. Guess how that idea would go over in OP?

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 3:32 PM

Tax payer, at least in the case of voucher schools in the states that have that system...there isn't enough data to confirm or deny what you're saying. The voucher schools aren't required to report the same way so that's current events as we speak. Trying to figure out how to measure voucher school performance and bring it in line with the usual state standards. I'm all for it because I do think we need answers to the question you're asking.

Tax payer  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 3:17 PM

The students who enter towns from low income communities and do well are the exception, not the rule. This shows that merely moving low income families into an area with higher performing schools with more resources is not the magic bullet. There needs to be a change in the culture of parenting in those areas for there to be progress. Without that, nothing positive will happen.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 3:14 PM

I disagree insofar as high schools de facto have to become centers for correcting for the kids who have fallen behind. Access to a school like OPRF helps...as long as OPRF is setup to handle it. Which is another issue. I agree that the gap starts early, but disagree that it has much to do with family. Rural areas tend to score lower than the suburbs, too. It's about money, creating a learning culture, etc.. Some studies even show parents have little impact on how kid turns out.

Tax payer  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 3:12 PM

a large portion of under performing kids into the same district, there are enough of a community of those students to retain the dysfunctional culture, so the positive educational culture doesn't wipe off on them, but they lower the standard of the school... but when only a very same number of under performing kids go to a high performing school, they are forced to assimilate into that culture, because there is not fall back, and there is a greater change of positive change. cont...

Tax payer  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 3:08 PM

Open, merely pouring money into a district does little to change the academic performance of a school filled with a large majority that do not have the emotional and cultural support that's important to improve. There has to be a wide scale cultural overhaul in the way those communities see education. I also don't believe moving all of those students into a higher performing school district will result in any significant change for the positive, because (as history has shown) when you move cont.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 3:02 PM

...did I realized that my entire middle school (6 - 9) was a complete waste. Fortunately, I wasn't so far behind that I couldn't compete (thank god my elementary school was to notch). It just took parental focus and it got me back on track and it took the better part of two years. However, some of my friends weren't so lucky. They were even further behind and definitely didn't have the parental involvement or homelife to make a difference.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 2:57 PM

To further exacerbate this problem, once a kid gets off the track in pre-school/elementary school, there really isn't much that can be done without intense remedial work. A kid who is already so far behind is not served by then trying to go to a school like OPRF. it doesn't help OPRF, nor does it help the kid. I know from experience as I was bussed as a kid from ghetto school to high income top suburban high school. Only after nearly failing out my freshman year

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 2:54 PM

Open, there are reams of data showing despite spending well over $10k a student, these kids can't read, write or add. Just pick any urban area. Same story. Public schools are failing and a big reason why is the cultural and societal failure of leftist policies going back 40+ years. Many of these schools are nothing but glorified day care and social welfare centers. yes, some parents in these areas will help their kids succeed despite the odds, but the vast majority will not.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 2:16 PM

Decades of data? Not my understanding of the research at all...the lifestyle of the family has been linked to some studies in FL. But that's not about the parents, that's about the neighborhood they live in. And school-wise the biggest predictors of future academic success are an early understanding of math skills and language, reading and attention skills gained in preschool. That involves parents. But parents aren't everything.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 1:50 PM

Open, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule, however, the biggest determinant of how a kid does in school is the parents. Throwing more money at it won't solve anything. We have decades of data to prove it. Schools like Urban Prep have shown to be successful where other have not. Morehouse College has been educating prominent black men for 150 years (name any field, I guarantee a Morehouse grad is/been at the top of it). Spelman, black women. The model works.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 1:27 PM

The problem with your "family component" theory is that plenty of high-achieving kids end up in college from families that aren't involved. It's actually more about the learning culture they're exposed to early on. BTW I also can't stand gender-specific education and would never send my children into that environment. lol

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 1:22 PM

Uncommon that's why the "left" doesn't get onboard though is that one can be in favor of school choice without privatizing education. I'm in favor of strong public schools...just the ability of parents to send their kids to the best or whichever one they want. Open enrollment!

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 1:19 PM

Open, the family component is the elephant in the room whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Just giving kids access to higher performing schools does not change having a screwed up home life. All that occurs is the "gap" that constantly gets discussed now. What is really needed are boot camp like schools i.e., Urban Prep that are based on tried and true approaches - all male, harsh discipline, and focus on reading, writing, and math. Keep the new math and other mumbo jumbo stuff out.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 1:13 PM

Open, that is called school choice and privatizing education. But unless you get teachers, their union, and govt taxing bodies on board, it will never happen. The left fights it every chance they get.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 12:51 PM

Ideally IMO, we can come up with a system in IL where the money is pooled and distributed per student, equitably, with lots of competition among the schools themselves for attracting students. I think a top-quality math & science academy targeting low-income students can do perfectly well.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 12:48 PM

Uncommon, it's interesting that in places where vouchers do currently exist a lot of those vouchers end up going to religious schools though. If you ask me, that is something future school choice reform needs to focus on is providing high-quality STEM schools as an alternative. But then we're onto talking about magnet schools, testing in, & giving more community members access to that same level of education. It's not really about money OR family values...more like access.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 12:23 PM

Schools typically reflect the communites they serve which is why suburban schools, particularly those with higher median incomes, do better than lower income inner city schools. It isn't the money, but the family values that are associated with those suburban communities. I'm doubtful there will ever be meaningful school reform that would benefit those that need it most. too many govt bureaucracies, unions, and other barriers with competing interests taking priority over the kids.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 9:57 AM

Muntz, the School Choice debate is a BIG one...I'll leave it that I'm in favor of both increasing teacher salaries nationally over the next decades AND increasing parent choice in where they send their kids to school. It's not a "pick one" scenario, IMO. Teachers do need to be on board. But, then again, I don't think vouchers are the magic solution. It's going to take a pretty comprehensive education reform.


Posted: February 4th, 2013 9:53 AM

Tax/Why?- I agree. It's truly lazy parents in Austin who merely direct their kids to the nearest suburban school. I see no reason for OP to be punished (more so) for its proximity to Austin. I would give them props if they drove their kids back/forth to Hinsdale Central, LTHS, New Trier every day. That takes sacrifice/commitment. That would show me they truly cared. Instead they point their kids to walk a few blocks west and OP foots the bill. That we cannot tolerate. That's laziness.


Posted: February 4th, 2013 9:44 AM

Open-For a voucher system to work, you need support from the teachers union, which they currently do not. Unfortunately, I've been told of this comments board that we taxpayers are not allowed to question their judgment or compensation, so they must be right. All hail our omniscient teachers!

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 8:09 AM

Nice School Choice editorial in the Trib today: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-scholarships-20130204,0,4461235.story

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 4th, 2013 8:08 AM

I don't disagree that parent involvement is important. But not more so than resources available to students/teachers/parents. Money talks. And, IMO, IL needs to give ALL parents the choice of where to send their kids to school. Vouchers, open enrollment, tax credits, whatever it takes. It's a state-level problem though. But eventually some sort of reform will need to happen.

Tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:56 PM

Glenn Ellyn, Oak Brook, Highland Park, Winnetika, Wilmette etc... being the high performing suburbs they are, should all share the responsibility of housing low income renters so they can receive the best public educations.

tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:51 PM

The 2nd is whether students from outside should be allowed to attend. I agree with "Why". IF a family truly wants to move to Oak Park for a better education for their kids, there are ways that involve work. Oak Park has substantially more voucher programs for low income renters than ANY other suburb around Chicago land - the difference literally been in the hundreds vs numbers that can count on 2 hands. Many other suburbs line Hinsdale, Wheaton, La Grange, Western Springs cont...

Tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:44 PM

The CPS teachers I've talked too, how work in underperforming schools, are highly educated, but they not only have to try to teach a large majority of students who have no interest in even trying, but have severe disciplinary problems. Moving the majority of these students into towns with high academic expectations without dealing with the root problems like parental involvement, will do little to push certain students to succeed.

Why? from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:27 PM

@Open Enrollment - I have zero desire to fund outside kids of families looking to cheat the system. There are many opportunities for those less fortunate to live in Oak Park (not River Forest). I'm happy to help a family who is willing to legitimately work for the future success of their children but that isn't what is being discussed here. A family needs to live in OP to send their kids to school here. How can you defend those who cheat a very generous system? What's that teach the kids?

Tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:22 PM

teachers from low performing CPS, and do you know what the difference in their ability to impart quality teaching is? Nothing! A teacher I talked to from a very high performing private school told me flat out that she and her colleagues are not superior to other teachers in CPS, they don't do anything especially different, and they don't even work as hard because the vast majority of their students come from families where parents are highly active in the kids educational development. cont...

Tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:18 PM

their areas to OPRF, or even the high performing Hinsdale Central, will do little good, because most of the issues lay in the fact that their parents aren't involved enough or at all. I've known "parents" AND "friends" from some south side areas that actually discourage their kids to work and go onto college because they don't want their kids to become educated and think they're better than them (no joke). I've talked in length about this with teachers from high performing schools, and cont...

Tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:12 PM

one being parental involvement (making sure kids learn positive learning habits at home etc...), another is quality teachers, another is limiting institutional bureaucracy so decisions are made based on what is best for learning and discipline. The biggest thing holding students back in underperforming districts is the lack of parental involvement in raising kids to be positively involved in school. The next is institutional bureaucracy, and lastly teachers. Moving a lot of kids from cont...

Tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:05 PM

There are a couple of main issues here. 1, That which determines the success rate of a school. 2. Whether students should be allowed to attend schools in any district or city. The problem is that people think that if they move all the students from underperforming districts into higher performing districts, they'll be getting higher quality education, which will make those students perform better. The issue with that belief is that a number of things determine student success cont...

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 7:51 PM

Big Picture, that's the NCLB school choice from AYP which is not to be confused with vouchers. Only a handful of states have true voucher programs.

Dylan Bellisle from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 6:18 PM

This seems like an okay policy. To eradicate this issue we need to institute a property tax swap for a tax wide education tax. If there is an issue, and I doubt its as wide-spread as some think, then the issue lies in how inequitable our education system is. You shouldn't have to move to have access to a decent education. PERIOD. I am glad though they are moving in a way to stop discrimination of renters. Why is it assumed that a renter will not continue to live in their residence? Homeowners can also sell and move, they can also be foreclosed on. This is a step in the right direction... but we need to do more. I expect checking residency will cost more than it saves. Its in Oak Park's self-interest to advocate for state funding of education, therefore other schools can expect to have similar funding levels.

Big picture  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 5:42 PM

FYI Open, It's called school choice in Illinois. Here's a link to how it is set up: http://www.isbe.state.il.us/grants/html/choice.htm

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 5:15 PM

FYI, Big, Illinois doesn't currently have a voucher system. And schools in other states that move to open enrollment usually put in place an inter-district policy that gives priority for any remaining space based on, say, first come first served, etc..

Big picture  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 4:17 PM

Our schools are pretty packed. The high school total enrollment figure is one of the largest around. I don't really see spare space in our system in the future. I see this as a practical problem involving limited resources, not a philosophical one.

Big picture  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 4:05 PM

The problem with vouchers here is schools don't have to take them. So, a family can request a voucher from their local school/district, but their desired school/district is not required to accept it.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 2:37 PM

I'm sure many OPers would be happy to fund outside kids with their personal checkbooks, Big. The real question is about the nature of public education, who the schools serve, & what the money is for. Checking residency is the easy answer now, but the day is probably coming when OP will be using any extra space to allow non-residents to access our system...if we follow other states into vouchers, credits, and school choice, at least. Might as well prepare now for the future

Big picture  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 2:23 PM

Perhaps OPRFHS turned a blind eye to residency requirements, word spread of this permissiveness, and now the problem is too big and needs to be reined in. This town cannot singlehandedly solve greater Chicago's education system inequities. We have a state system where local property taxes fund local schools. Oak Parkers who advocate for the use of local tax dollars to educate nonresidents should consider writing their own personal checks to cover tuition for those they seek to help.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: February 3rd, 2013 10:24 AM

Brendan, so what you're saying is that the OPPD sucks at their job? lol How are students different from anybody else coming in & out of our diverse village? Even if not in school, those kids could come hang out in front of OPRFHS if they want & there's not much the police can do.


Posted: February 3rd, 2013 9:25 AM

It is difficult enough for the oak park and river forest police to know the students in the area and their behavior. Now throw in kids from Berwyn, Austin, Maywood, Galewood, etc and it becomes impossible to keep track of these kids. Is there a beef with a gang and a student outside the district? No one will know until something horrible happens.

A dad  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 2:57 PM

Generalizations lead to classism and racism. There's enough of that to spread around Chicagoland and it's suburbs without bringing more into Oak Park. Yes, I believe people should pay their way, and have to work for privileges in one way or another, but generalizing about an entire class of people is nothing short of disgusting.

A dad  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 2:52 PM

OP Dad, not all of my children at "grown". I would tell my young child that what that person did was wrong, and that their behavior is unacceptable, but I would NOT go on to make generalizations about an entire class of people. I'm not "preaching", I'm calling you out on your obvious discriminatory disposition. OP is a great place that has a lot to offer with some problems, it's far from a "sewer"... unlike your attitude.


Posted: February 1st, 2013 2:42 PM

I have a friend who works in the neighboring Elmwood Park school district. They check for residency of all students every year because of the try by Chicago and Melrose Park residents to send their kids to Elmwood Park. My friend said numerous families are caught and turned away at registration and more than 30 families are investigated and removed annually following tips from village residents. Seems like a prudent approach the way schools are funded mainly by local property taxes.

Bo Jackson  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 8:03 AM

If they can dunk, hit a home run or throw a TD then maybe ...................................

Hyena lover  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 6:13 AM

Funny, which species of hyena would you be talking about, Jungle? The scavenger who is important to the ecosystem or the pack hunter who chase down prey wearing them down in long chases? Or can we just disregard the racist, elitist blather as the baiting it is? This is why we need more "outsiders" in OP is, if nothing else, to anger the idiots who rant about people trying to steal their hard work.

Welcome to the Jungle  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 2:43 AM

Ever watch a nature show about hyenas? They find a nice area populated with other predators stupid enough to work hard for thier kills, and animals stupid enough to stick around. The hyenas then steal the kills, consume every living thing they can, and when they are done they move on to the next "area" to wipe out. Meanwhile the hard working predators are left behind to try and rehab the area. Sound familiar?

OP Dad from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 2:12 AM

@ A Dad What would you tell your child? Do you think this situation is healthy? Your children are grown .. Please do not preach. OP is in the sewer.

Why? from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 9:57 PM

There's more affordable housing in Oak Park than any other suburb in Chicagoland. We're not shy on providing opportunity to those in need. So why does living in a "liberal community" mean the folks who actually live here constantly have to bend over and grab our ankles and frown for people trying to lie and cheat their way to the top? I work for a living. The D200 board got this right in a huge way and may not have gone far enough.

A dad  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 8:46 PM

OP Dad, Yes there are low income renters that behave inappropriately, but there are also people that are just fine, and same with non-section 8 residents. You need to judge it on a case by case basis as oppose to demonizing an entire class of people. I agree that people tend to care more for the community if they've earned it as oppose to being given it, so I think people should have to earn the privilege to live here, whether that be money or some other type of work/live agreement.

OP Dad  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 7:41 PM

A overwieght loud OP mom just threw a loaded diaper in the street in front of myself and my child going to school. She was screaming at her 7 year old son. She had four children and no Dad. I am sure she is section 8. She is acting like an animal. She is the reas It's over .. we need to move. I picked up the diaper and threw it in a trash bin. My child told me to wash my gloves. A pig will always be a pig. There is no education gap. There is an social gap. They enjoy rolling in the mud


Posted: January 31st, 2013 7:01 PM

It's straight up simple. If you don't live in the town, you shouldn't reap the "rewards". Should require the lease documents to be notarized too.


Posted: January 31st, 2013 5:46 PM

Progressive Much-"If she could actually afford to live in Oak Park". I would also ask "her" if she is doing all she can to afford to live here. Is she paying for cable/satellite? Expensive cell phone? Car payment? Frugal wardrobe? Working hard and educating herself so she can get a better paying job? Once I see the personal sacrifices are being made, then we can talk. If an OP education is that important, the parent will make ALL necessary sacrifices to get it.Or perhaps it's truly not important

Violet Aura  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 4:45 PM

@Jo: You could get someone to pose as a landlord on the phone. Best thing is some gobermint document.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 3:26 PM

Tom, I wasn't thinking busing or segregation per se. I was making reference more to where current districts are given time to improve their academics or else parents are allowed to send their kids to whatever better school they would like, even outside of the district. Happens all the time elsewhere...surprised it hasn't yet here. All it takes is proving another school would be a better option for your student.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 3:17 PM

"I don't believe I should be footing the bill for someone else's kid, is that fair?" Damn straight it isn't fair - neither is going to Jewel and watching someone with a WIC card putting their groceries into an Escalade. Ever see that?

A dad  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 3:15 PM

Quite a lot of typos from my iPad. Just to clarify, I mean a certain amount of parents could apply to do community service in Oak Park as a way to pay for the education. The taxes are hard enough on our family, but we're willing to pay it for the schools. Also, the desirablilty of the village is tied to the quality of schools, and the fact that you have to live here. Take that away, and there will be little reason for people to pay to live here, and you'll see the village change.

A dad  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 3:10 PM

I came to oak park, worked and payed the price with sacrifices so my kid could attend the schools here. Now, I'm all for equality, and I think kids deserve a good education, but I don't believe it should have handed to anyone without working for it. My the answer is to set up a merit based scholarship, or to have parents from outside do a certain amount of Cummings service etc... I don't believe I should be footing the bill for someone else's kid, is that fair?

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 3:05 PM

Open - In Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974), the Supreme Court held that courts could not solve Detroit's segregated school issue by busing city kids to suburban schools. I seriously doubt that the court as currently composed would rethink that decision now. Plus, I don't think that CPS is currently subject to a desegregation order.

Open Enrollment  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 2:38 PM

I hear you, Done. I think it's a sooner or later thing...school choice is coming. And we're probably just a court case or two away from HAVING to take Chicago kids into OP. Or you being able to send your kids to New Trier. The inequality built into the system makes it only a matter of time.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 2:10 PM

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for a parent being able to send a kid to any school they wish. But until school funding comes from the state somehow and isn't tied to property values or addresses and the tax playing field is leveled for those living in Winnetka and Oak Park to Englewood and Austin, there needs to be residency requirements.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 1:59 PM

We pay administrators $190K and up - I have no problem adding a "Residency Administrator" to the staffs of both D97 and D200 to administer residency requirements. In fact, I'll send a resume. I'd like to send my kids to Park Ridge or Winnetka schools, but I live in OP. OPRF isn't on par with Maine South or New Trier anymore, but this is where we live and I pay for my kids to go to school here. You want to go to OP schools, live here or pay up.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 1:55 PM

Ask for a drivers license for both parent and, if of age, student. Ask for copies of utility bills and a lease agreement/mortgage payment stub to confirm address with a drivers license. I now pay too damn much money to live in this town and send my kids to Oak Park schools to have someone who lives in Austin attend OP schools because Chicago is too screwed up to care enough "about the kids" to run a decent school system. I'd like to send my kids to Maine South but I live in OP.

Open enrollment  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 12:12 PM

For clarity, it's not the checking ID I have the problem with...but if we're going to take the time to have someone ask for those IDs then we should probably have a side-by-side guide setup for them to fix any issues that arise. A village/district clinic or liason who can take them through the process of fixing the situation so they're legit students.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 11:50 AM

It doesn't take significant resources to verify residency. Just show two forms of a third party documentation to prove residency when registering for school. it isn't rocket science and doesn't require a ton of resources. I don't have a problem if someone wants to create a special program, but again fund it with private donations. While your heart is in the right place, the reality is we can't save everyone and tax payers can't pay for it all.

Open enrollment  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 11:32 AM

@Uncommon Think about it though, we're wasting all these resources checking residency to make sure they are "our students" when instead we could be spending those same resources getting the students who were trying to come here help to stay and keep money in OP in the longrun. We're all about inter-governmental cooperation until some outsiders arrive then we want to ride them out of town on a rail. Perhaps we should be working with the county, Chicago, other suburbs, nonprofits, etc. to help.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 11:17 AM

If you guys want to setup a scholarship fund to pay the cost to educate Austin residents at OPRF, then do it with your own money. Are we going to change the name of the school to AOPRF too?

Open enrollment  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 10:57 AM

That's an interesting view, Progressive. Maybe we should be letting students who don't check out stay in the district with a time limit to get residency here & then rent assistance with affording our community. We should be more welcoming to those who want to use our district resources. And it could boost our population that has been in decline over time. I'm also curious what resources students are offered to stay in OP if their families are under financial hardship. We should be doing more.

Progressive Much? from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 10:45 AM

I'm quite surprised at the anger in these comments. If a mother goes through the trouble to improperly enroll her child in OPRF, she is doing it in the best interest of her child, rather than send her kid to some horrible Austin school. If she could actually afford to live in Oak Park, she would likely do so, but renting an apartment or flat big enough for a family is not exactly cheap here.

Tim from RF  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 6:47 AM

I like Amy McCormack comment. Yeah right. What is a Lawyer trying to muck up the policy with a comment like that. Once you qualify, you cannot be removed if questions arise about your residency? So, that means if you qualify Freshman year, move out of district, you should still be able to attend the other 3 + years? Glad to see the rest of the board wised up to that nonsense.

parent from oak park  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 11:24 PM

On the one hand, of course we should have (reasonable) procedures to assure that students are actual residents. However, I am concerned that this is really just another example of trying to blame all of the school's problems on "outsiders" - not just kids who aren't actual residents but also those who (OMG) haven't lived in Oak Park all of their lives.

Open enrollment  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 2:45 PM

A community that doesn't suspiciously eye outsiders is also a bellweather for property values. lol Seriously though, I wish the same level of energy being put into checking residency were being put towards improving state-level education funding. Rather than selfishly guarding our property tax rates. I realize we're being backed into a corner so this is necessary...but some people take a little extra glee that is shameful.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 2:26 PM

Open, it isn't about tolerance. It is about overburden OP tax payers not wanting to subsidize out of district students. If we had open enrollment and a mechanism to allow for a limited # of out of district parents to pay their fair share for OPRF, then I can't say I would be against it just yet. However, what also needs to be studied is what effect these students are having on the overall test scores, etc of OPRF as well. A strong school is a bellweather for all our property values.

Open enrollment  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 1:12 PM

Open enrollment is what other states are using...for anyone wanting to go to school out of district there is then state funding that follows the child giving them both school choice AND not having local residents pay for the extra students. I find our desire to keep non-OPers out of our schools to be sadly intolerant.


Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:59 PM

KR - Actually, property taxes have a direct impact on how rental rates. And it IS fraud based on the current residency laws. Why should they be limited to OP? Why should OP be penalized for its proximity to Austin? But if your argument is equitable distribution, perhaps we can bus city kids to New Trier, Hinsdale Central, Deerfield, etc. And perhaps my children can take that same bus to New Trier and the kids can all sing kumbaya.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:58 PM

KR, if you are so concerned, you are free to offer a scholarship to subsidize the additional cost of educating children whose parents neither rent or pay property taxes in Oak Park so they can continue to attend OPRF. Of course, they probably wouldn't be stuck having to lie about residency to get a decent education if they stopped voting for the part of teachers unions and anti-school choice. The irony of the situation is rich...

KR from River Forest  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:45 PM

Furthermore, would you all care if the kids were well behaved? Talked "better"? Had more fiscal potential? When I was at OPRF, plenty of kids living in other areas contributed well to class, and the most spoiled RF and OP kids took the most from the experience. But, of course, it comes down to the all-mighty dollar. Fraud? Financial crimes? ARE YOU KIDDING? Look at the OPRF administration a little closer. "outsiders" vs "insiders"? Your children are watching you- and where your ethics lay.

KR from River Forest  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:38 PM

Leave it to this area to put a price tag on a kid's worth. If you're so pissed about property taxes, rent! You all are setting a fine example of how to discriminate against one another because of a dollar sign. Who cares how much your taxes are? Your kids don't pay them. Penalize the absurd policy for how public funds are distributed- not the kids who fall victim to it. We ALL benefit when the youth are educated well; those concerned about power complain when opportunity is spread around.


Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:35 PM

How about calling the landlords of people who rent?

Violet Aura  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:04 PM

@Uncommon: I agree. People should be required to show documents that are official. Leases can be forged and really don't require much to falsify.

Dan Hefner from Oak park  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 11:28 AM

OPRF @&17,000 X 4 = $68,000! A huge financial crime that has been going on forever. The student and the parent are criminals. Should a parent and child get caught stealing a $20.00 of meat at Jewel both are arrested and go through the legal system. Not true at OPRF, after all, "they are just trying to better themsleves".

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 10:33 AM

Leases alone won't be enough. You can get blank leases at Officemax. Pretty sure there will be cases of fake leases being submitted. They will need to support residency with other forms of third party documentation such as addresses on pay checks from employers, tax returns, bank statements, insurance, etc. Otherwise, the due diligence will be for naught.


Posted: January 30th, 2013 10:16 AM

The residency issue, as it applies to the school system, has been a concern since at least the early 1980's, if not before. Interestingly, it was at that same time that OPRF began its downward spiral as a respected Illinois high school. Too much time has elapsed and too much potential has been squandered to dance around the issue. Anyone living and paying taxes in Oak Park should not find it inconvenient to confirm the same. To suggest otherwise is patronizing, at best.

Kate Dolan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 10:13 AM

I think this is ridiculous, redundant and costly, especially for the parents of Freshmen.

anne from Oak Park  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 10:08 AM

I don't have a problem with this, check on!

Paying back  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 9:51 AM

when you register at the high school do you have to submit your transcripts from d97? if a student is found to not be a resident by d200 will they share that news with d97 so they can go after the family for investigation and back payment for potential theft of services from d97?


Posted: January 30th, 2013 9:04 AM

"people are going to be inconvenienced." I just received my property tax bill....INCONVENIENCE THEM!

Anthony Kolovitz from River Forest  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 8:49 AM

Verification of residency seems to make sense to me. Surprised that any Dist. 200 Board Member would not be in favor. Life is full of inconveniences, but when it is time for my three kids to attend OPRF, as I did, I will happily bring the necessary documents to prove my family's residency in River Forest. Who is the Board concerned about inconveniencing?

TJ from oak park  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 4:01 AM

Of course this is the right thing to do - I don't understand how any board member could argue against this. Abuses and / or fraud occur, and if you don't legally reside in the area, you should not be enrolled in the school. Period.

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