Safety last, for Oak Park children, is the loud, clear message from both the village and District 97. Neither one is willing to pay the small yearly sum of $6,500, each, for crossing guards for Oak Park’s Catholic schools.
The village 2010 budget is more than $90 million. Putting children in physical danger to save about $39,000 for six intersections shows that the village and District 97 have their priorities all wrong. Crossing guards should be the cut of last resort – after planters, festivals and environmental campaigns. Oak Park has more than $8 million sitting in TIF funds to pay developers along Lake and Madison Streets, but our children can cross Oak Park Avenue at rush hour without a crossing guard – which the public school children have.
Parents who send their children to the Catholic schools, like all Oak Park property owners, are already paying for District 97’s children to cross the street safely [Editor’s note: All of the students at St. Giles, St. Edmund and Ascension aren’t from Oak Park families]. Local property taxes collected for Oak Park schools amount to more than $46 million annually.
District 97 knows full well that Catholic school parents pay for education twice. That is our choice. We should not be penalized further for this decision. For example, if our family sent our four primary school-age children to Lincoln and Brooks, we would be entitled to more than $48,000 in state and local school resources. Ascension educates our children for less than $13,000.
Math Problem: If Ascension closed tomorrow and the 450 children all attended District 97 schools, it would cost the public schools $5.4 million, without a drop of new revenue. As school children in the village, our kids are entitled to the same safety while they are on the public streets as the other children of Oak Park receive.
Sorry, we paid for it.
Michael and Jean Lotus