D97 approves full-day K roll out

The District 97 school board last week, as expected, unanimously approved implementing full-day kindergarten at three elementary schools next fall.

Beye, Irving and Longfellow schools will host the initial program, joining Whittier School, which already offers the option. The program will expand district-wide in the 2009-2010 school year.

Supt. Constance Collins said the district would continue to provide a half-day kindergarten option for parents.

“We’ve really looked at what are the pros and challenges associated with all of these,” Collins said. “The administrators, as well as the kindergarten grade-level teachers and oversight committee and implementation team, have all wholeheartedly endorsed providing a half-day option within the full day. That is the recommendation we will make after looking at all of the possibilities.”

D200 announces principal candidates

Some familiar names were announced last week as finalists for the permanent post of principal at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Don Vogel, a 33-year OPRF administrator currently serving as interim principal, is among the three finalists. Vogel has served as interim principal since last July.

The other finalists are Nathaniel Rouse, an assistant principal at Highland Park High School, and former OPRF teacher Lionel Allen, principal of Sherman School of Excellence in Chicago. Allen was an OPRF history teacher from 2000 to 2005.

All three finalists will spend the next two weeks interviewing with parents, teachers and students, and will meet faculty. A community forum for each finalist will take place this month with a candidate selected by the end of March, said Dist. 200 Supt. Attila Weninger.

OPRF to replace stadium turf

The high school plans to install new field turf at its stadium before the start of the next school year, officials announced last week.

The school will go out for bid immediately, said Jack Lanenga, District 200 assistant superintendent for operations. The new turf would be installed between July 21 and Aug. 10. The turf was first installed in 2002. The company that did the initial work went bankrupt a year later, Lanenga said.

As a result, the school receives no money from warranties. He added that the school was exploring bonding out to a third party for eight years of warranty. The school, Lanenga said, is determining whether that would be cost-effective.

D200 approves revised resolutions

The District 200 school board last week voted to revise a controversial resolution related to narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students, and also approved a set of achievement proposals by Supt. Attila Weninger for implementation this fall.

The board voted 6-1 to reword the gap resolution passed last November. The revised measure states that the district’s top priority is the narrowing of the academic achievement gap between “minority and non-minority students” instead of “black and white students” as stated in the original resolution. Ralph Lee, sponsor of the original measure, voted in favor of the change, saying its rewording would not stop the board from continuing on its current path of addressing the gap between black and white students.

Sharon Patchak-Layman, however, voted against the revision, saying that it diluted addressing the wording, referring to it as “the elephant that’s been in the room of this community for a long time.”

The board also voted 6-1 to approve a set of proposals from the plan released last October by Weninger to address overall student achievement. Patchak-Layman voted against the proposals, saying they didn’t go far enough. She also referred to the proposals as “a plan to plan.” The initiatives include programs targeting incoming freshmen next fall. Weninger took exception to Patchak-Layman’s characterization, pointing out that it was she who last fall pushed for administration to focus the plan more on current and incoming students.

“To characterize this in that way is unfair, it’s inaccurate and it does not recall accurately what’s occurred in the last several months,” he said.

-Terry Dean

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