Would it work in Oak Park? That is what I wondered after reading that two Lake Forest boards of education decided to share one superintendent between the elementary and high school districts.

Now, with the high school continuing to search for a superintendent, I think it is time to consider the Lake Forest shared-services model. Seven other communities in Illinois support a shared superintendent. Oak Park school districts already cooperate, communicate and articulate with each other. The opportunity to have one superintendent oversee the interests of both boards offers educational advantages and economies of scale. At the elementary schools, we already have an excellent superintendent with a working knowledge of the Oak Park community, a knowledge of Oak Park students and families and prior administrative experience in a K-12 school district. She would be the obvious candidate to move this plan forward.

In the two years since Lake Forest began shared services, much has been accomplished. Educationally, the students are benefiting from a coordinated K-12 special education program, coordinated K-12 music program, a middle school analytical writing curriculum and a 6-12 middle school/high school transition project.

By sharing a number of administrators, there has been a $920,000 savings in administrative costs between the two districts. In addition to sharing the superintendent, the two districts also share the assistant superintendent of business services, assistant superintendent of personnel, deputy assistant for business and operations, executive director of special education services, director of communication, director of music, director of secondary education, and director of buildings and grounds.

A shared-services agreement between District 200 and District 97 would create an enormous amount of positive energy. Students, families and community would all benefit. I urge the community and school boards to discuss the potential for Oak Park in implementing its own version of the Lake Forest shared-services model.

Sharon Patchak-Layman
District 200 school board candidate

Join the discussion on social media!