Let’s see now. Anything going on at good ol’ OPRF this summer?

Well. Steven Isoye has packed up the superintendent’s office and moved north to Niles. Have I mentioned recently that the super’s office at OPRF is far and away the nicest publicly-funded office in town! Spacious and bright. Joylynn Pruitt will not mind her new digs when she arrives from Missouri. Did we mention that she has just been hired, unanimously no less, as the interim superintendent of OPRF. 

“In an excellent pool of candidates, Dr. Pruitt was a standout,” said Jeff Weissglass, the school board president, in a prepared statement. Did he actually use the word pool in that sentence?!

Let me look at the extended play version of that press release. What else did Weissglass say? “We all look forward to pooling our talents in the next year to create the best darned lost year in school history,” said Weissglass. And, “in our conversations with Dr. Pruitt, the many ideas we all have in support of the school’s mission of excellence and equity for all students were as a pool of butterfly wings lifting us up.” 

The man is a poet. 

Unclear if in that interview Dr. Pruitt was asked if she knows how to measure chlorine levels. What exactly the sweet spot might be among agitated Oak Park and River Foresters as to how many tens of millions a pool should actually cost. Whether the pool must be Olympic-sized or just sort of as good as Rio. Would a whole bunch of Slip ‘n’ Slides be just as effective in teaching kids to swim? Or whether she’d be especially disappointed if, on arrival, her promised parking space had been demolished just in case Option 3G — no parking garage, no pool, just some nice green space — had been chosen during one of the school board’s nightly special meetings on campus rearrangement options.

Other questions she might have been asked include: Do you think tennis is a real sport or just some sort of fussy activity for the wealthy that we could do without?  Have you ever run a referendum against some really cranky people? If we pay you enough for your 200-day contract, do you mind if every meeting we hold is related to aquatics? Is offering the public three options for a new pool too many or just right? Yes, you’re right, five or seven options is better. Do you know how to fake a Facebook account so we could finally get some positive comments about the pool on OakPark.com? If we pay you enough for your 200-day contract, you would write positive comments on OakPark.com wouldn’t you? 

A final round of questions might have included: In your long experience as a school superintendent in some place called Missouri was it typical or atypical for the school board to actually decide things? Like important, expensive things not just about curriculum and technology and stuff. Were you impressed that we hired you by a 7-0 vote? In one meeting! Did you notice there was not even one mention of holding a referendum to decide if we could hire you? 

But getting back to the pool, have you ever been responsible for building a pool? No, not one you blow up with a pump, but one that involves tractors and bonds and humiliation. That kind of pool. You’ve now seen our 3-acre campus. Where would you build a pool? If we build it just at night, do you think anyone would notice? 

So welcome, Dr. Pruitt, to Oak Park and River Forest High School. It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to have a referendum. We’re going to be the subject of a nationally released documentary focusing on OPRF and its bold vision of equity and inclusion. We’re told the working title is “How Not to Build a Pool.” Oh, and we’re also going to find time to hire a superintendent if we can.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...

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