A personnel report for the 2006-2007 Oak Park District 97 school year was presented at the Dec. 13 school board meeting, highlighting a number of key issues for the district, including a high volume of teachers retiring in the near future and the lack of diversity among the district’s teachers.

According to the report, out of 456 certified Dist. 97 staff, which includes teachers and administration, 3 percent are Asian, 16 percent are black, 2 percent are Hispanic with 1 percent Native American for a total of 96 minority staff members.

In contrast, the other 360, or 79 percent, are white.

A total of 19.9 percent of certified teachers in Dist. 97 for the 2006-2007 school year are minority, up from 18.7 percent last school year.

Minority student enrollment saw a slight decrease at 43.6 percent of the 5,002 students enrolled.

“People are asking me about this, and the question I have is how we’re doing with minority teacher recruitment and retention. The numbers over the last six or seven years have been pretty flat,” said Board Vice President Michelle Harton. “Are we creating an environment where minority teachers come here and feel that they can thrive?”

Over the past 10 school years, the percentage of minority certified teachers at Dist. 97 has fluctuated by no more than 2.1 percent, with the current 19.9 percent for the 2006-2007 school year being the highest and 17.2 percent in 1998-1999 being the lowest.

The issue was also raised that 391 students (7.3 percent) in the district are multiracial, but none of the teachers staffed by Dist. 97 are multiracial according to the personnel report.

“When you start thinking about our student population, we actually have more students who are identified as multiracial than we have Asian or Hispanic,” said board member Peter Barber. Asian students number 184 (3.68 percent) and Hispanic 189 (3.78 percent) in Dist. 97. “I think it would be helpful, if we’re really trying to help families that are relative to the student population, to try and capture that.”

Trish Carlson, who works in administration for Dist. 97, said she’s incorporating those questions into a “minority teacher recruitment plan” that will be provided by the end of January. It will provide a long- and short-term plan for how to address issues with minority teacher hiring and a plan for movement for this hiring year.

In other board business:

  • The proposed corporate and special purpose property taxes to be levied for 2006 are $38.38 million, which is a 4.99 percent increase over last year’s extension.
  • The estimated property taxes to be levied for debt service for 2006 are $7,830,074 which is a $26,046 increase from 2005.
  • The estimated total property taxes to be levied for 2006 are $46,210,074 which is a 4.17 percent increase over the previous year’s total levy.
  • Levies for IMRF and Social Security of $782,800 were too high and were decreased by 29.74 percent in 2006 to $550,000.

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