By Terry Dean
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.