Bridgett Baron didn’t know quite what to expect last week while enrolling her twins for kindergarten at District 97.

Baron and her husband, Matt, have lived in Oak Park for 14 years but are new parents to the district.

Last Wednesday was open kindergarten enrollment for all elementary schools. This fall, the district is rolling out full-day kindergarten at Beye, Irving and Longfellow elementary schools before going districtwide next year.

Baron called the registration process efficient and intense.

The jovial mother of a 4-year-old boy and girl didn’t have a bad experience, just an amusing one.

“I came in the morning, but I wasn’t able to finish because they shut down at noon for lunch. So I came back in the afternoon. But the lady said, ‘We’ll hold your paperwork and keep it safe.’ I thought, ‘You mean I can’t take it with me?’ ” Baron said.

“So I asked, ‘Why can’t I take the paperwork home?’ They said, ‘No you can’t.’ They weren’t rude, but it was pretty straightforward that that wasn’t going to happen, so don’t even pursue that conversation.”

Registration took place at Dist. 97 headquarters, 970 Madison St. The district changed things up this year with a round-robin process. Tables handling various stages of enrollment were set up for parents. Before, parents would meet individually with a registrar.

As always, parents are required to have proper identification and documents. Baron got a flier in the spring from the park her twins attend about kindergarten registration and what to bring.

She brought her children’s birth certificates, her driver’s license-both mandatory-and also a property tax bill and proof of payment of that bill. She thought some suggestions for secondary documents, like a cable bill, were odd.

She was also amused dealing with some of the registrars, who were district employees.

“They were very professional but they seemed awfully nice. It seemed like they were asking questions to trip you up,” Baron recalled laughing.

“It was in that high-pitched voice and they would say, ‘So, how long have you been in Oak Park? What do you like to do around town?’- like they were trying to catch me in a lie in case I didn’t know the ends and outs of Oak Park. I guess I was happy that I really looked over the piece of paper of what they were asking for.”

One couple she saw was having a tougher time.

“They were really getting drilled. Apparently they owned several rental properties, and the person was asking them, ‘So, where do you live? Do you live at this residence?’ The guy had to go back to his car to get more proof.

“I mean, they were very thorough,” Baron said of the district. “If the paperwork didn’t seem legitimate, there was some third-degree going on.”

Baron recalled about 15 parents registering that morning and afternoon. The thorough registration process had its merits, Baron suspects. She was told by one of the registrars that the district had to pull a large number of students out of school last year because their enrollment didn’t check out.

One of last documents Baron signed last week was a slip allowing the district to do some more checking up on parents and their kids.

“You’d better be who you say you are or they’re gonna get ya,” she said.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Do you have the proper paperwork?

In addition to your child’s birth certificate and your driver’s license, you will need one of these:

  • If you rent, a letter of residency from a landlord in lieu of lease
  • If you own, a property tax bill and proof of payment of that bill
  • If you’re a new homeowner, mortgage or closing papers

and three of these:

  • Vehicle registration
  • Voter registration
  • Utility bill
  • Public aid card
  • Moving van receipt
  • Credit card or cable bill

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