After years of no new clubs at Oak Park and River Forest High School, and months of expectation after the school indicated it might be able to add clubs at the beginning of the school year but needed to wait for the outcome of teachers contract negotiations, new club organizers are still waiting.
"I'm as anxious as anybody," said Cindy Milojevic, OPRF's new full-time activities director.
Stipends paid to coaches and club sponsors were negotiated with the teachers contract package, and the format for calculating stipends changed.
The contract was signed before Thanksgiving, but it created an Advisory Stipend Review Committee. Composed of three administrators and three teachers, the committee will review the activities budget and make recommendations on new clubs, Milojevic said. The administrators will be Milojevic, athletic director Barry Huitema, and assistant superintendent for human resources Jason Edgecombe. The search for three veteran teachers had not been finalized as of last week, Milojevic said.
She said the group is "scrambling to meet ASAP to move forward.
"Everyone is sensitive to the urgency, but on the other hand, we need to take the time to do this correctly," she said.
Milojevic said that it was "good for the school" that decisions on clubs and stipends are not made by just one person.
She expects the committee to have reviewed the activities finances, club proposals and have "a game plan" within a few weeks.
No end seen for discipline audit
The District 200 Board of Education met last week to hear an update on the discipline audit being conducted by the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education Supt. Robert Ingraffia. The board also heard from parents upset about the discipline program at OPRF.
Ingraffia and his audit team visited OPRF Nov. 30 for a full eight hours, according to Gail Kalmerton, board clerk. The team reviewed documents and local news articles, met with various staff members and the extended Joint Study Committee on Discipline and Behavior, and visited academic programs.
The team expected it would make another visit, Kalmerton said, but could not predict when the board could expect a final report.
Carl Spight, OPRF's in-house researcher, visited Ingraffia's office and discussed the findings of his analysis of the past two years of discipline data. Spight could not find any evidence of bias, Kalmerton said.
Parents and community members speaking in the public comments portion of the meeting said they felt intimidated by the discipline process, that suspensions and expulsions can change the entire direction of a student's life, that the deans of discipline should keep in close contact with teachers, and that fear of a racism label shouldn't affect how the board metes out discipline.
"What's right is right," one grandmother said.
The mother of one student asked that he be returned to an alternative school, where he did better than at OPRF. She said her son had been kicked out of school as of Oct. 13, but that she hadn't heard anything else from the school.
Board President Carlotta Lucchesi told the mother that she would look into the matter, but that the board would discuss individual student discipline issues only in closed session.