D97 board passes on taking smoking ban position

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By BOB SKOLNIK

The District 97 Board of Education last week declined to chime in on the smoking ban controversy.

The board declined to take up a draft resolution that proclaimed that adults and children have the right to breathe smoke-free indoor air, as part of an effort to ban smoking in all workplaces in Oak Park.

The draft resolution was created after Dr. David Ansell and a seventh grade Brooks Middle School student urged the board at its Jan. 12 meeting to support the ban.

Smoking is already banned in all Dist. 97 facilities, and the board decided it would not be appropriate to take a position on an issue before the village board.

"It's not our place to determine where in the village people can smoke," said  board member Marcia Frank, who nevertheless proclaimed her hatred of smoking and noted that smoking-related cancers killed two of her grandparents.

"Our buildings are smoke-free," said board member Michelle Harton. "I don't see what [the village-wide resolution] accomplishes."

Lunches will get better, Fagan says
In other business, Ellen Efron Pimentel, a mother of two Beye School students, complained to the board about the district's hot lunch program.

In May, Pimentel sent a letter to the board, signed by approximately 365 parents, teachers and a few students complaining about the lunches.

In the letter Pimentel described the district's lunches as "unhealthy, unimaginative and far from the lessons about health and nutrition I teach my children."

Superintendent John Fagan said that the district's hot lunch contract for next year is coming up for bid and he expects improvement.

"We have been looking at our hot lunch program all year," Fagan said. "We want kids to have nutritious lunches and we want lunches that kids will eat. I'm fairly confident that we will have some changes next year so that we can have more nutritious lunches."

$2.7M bond sale approved
The board also approved the sale of short-term bonds to raise $2.7 million: $2 million to fund building repairs and improvements at Beye, Irving, Longfellow, Mann and Whittier schools, and $700,000 in operating revenue for the Education Fund.

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