We can’t pick and choose when it comes to funding special needs
As the parent of a disabled child who recently graduated from District 90, I must comment on one development in the recent debate regarding the school referendum. Some of those who are opposed to the referendum appear to blame the families of disabled children for our high costs. Special-needs children, the opponents say, disproportionately drain school resources. Some suggest that the schools should not be adequately funded for that purpose. In that way, they say, families with disabled children would not have an incentive to move here with their burdensome children.

As a public?#34;not private?#34;school system, River Forest has no choice. It must take all who qualify. As much as some residents might like to block all their local streets to public traffic, or to close their stores to shoppers from outside the community, those resources cannot be closed off from the general public. Neither can they close the schools to those who are able to reside here.

Special-needs education is a right, not a privilege. Special-needs education cannot be given or taken away depending on the fiscal condition of the district for any given year.

But if anyone thinks that River Forest’s programs are too expensive, that special education should be cut further before any more money goes to the schools, then where does one draw the line? Are paraplegics OK, but epileptics are not? Is dyslexia a good yuppie disorder, but deformities are not? We live in the world, and bad things happen to people. We cannot pick and choose among disabilities, and we cannot choose to turn away (by rules or funding) members of our community who are in need.

Not that anyone should believe for a minute that Dist. 90 is exceeding what it is required to spend for its special needs children. Each family must prove its child’s need and justify any requested program. Many other districts have been compelled to provide far greater services than Dist. 90 provides, and still others have wasted tax dollars by paying tremendous legal fees to fight their own community’s parents in this regard.

We can debate rationally about the relative merits of the referendum, the tax cap, and state mandates. We would only demean ourselves if we turn against the weakest members of our community.

Barbara Smith
River Forest

Even private school supporters should vote yes on March 21
I am a lifelong resident of River Forest and a parishioner of St. Luke Church. My eight grown children and 20 grandchildren have, for the most part, been schooled at St. Luke, Fenwick and Trinity high schools and Oak Park and River Forest High School.

I am also a staunch supporter of the upcoming District 90 referendum. Why? Because I firmly believe that all members of a community have a duty to support the public schools. Private and parochial schools are an option that some of us may choose for our children, but it is still in everyone’s best interests to keep the public schools strong and well regarded.

Some of our children and grandchildren over the years have attended Dist. 90 schools. At those times, our family felt very fortunate to have the choice between excellent parochial schools and excellent public schools.

Those who do not have children or grandchildren living in River Forest may think they have no stake in the quality of our public schools. However, our property values are very much influenced by the reputation of Dist. 90.

These are the reasons I will be voting yes on March 21, and I urge you to do the same.

John E. O’Neill
River Forest

If the referendum doesn’t pass, the fun will go out of school
My name is Darcy Hargadon and I am a seventh-grader at Roosevelt Middle School. I participate in orchestra and a few other after-school programs. It is essential to the children of River Forest such as myself that the referendum is passed.

If it isn’t passed, the school will be awful. Without any sports teams, Roosevelt athletes will not get to compete against other neighboring schools. With the cutting of the musical programs, kids who are not exposed to fine arts outside of school will have no experience with music, and that is a shame.

If the referendum doesn’t get passed, every day for my whole eighth grade year, I will go to math, reading, social studies, language arts, and science, and that is it. There will be no more tech, music, art, and foreign languages, which are the only subjects that can get kids like me through the day. Also, with the cutting of ATP programs, not all students will be challenged enough academically. All of the fun school clubs such as ping pong, cupstacking, chess, hero clix, newspaper, yearbook, and writing club will be no longer. The referendum must get passed for the children attending public schools.

Darcy Hargadon
River Forest

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