Admittedly, we were skeptics. When, in the wake of an almost impossibly narrow defeat of its referendum to build new pools a year back, Oak Park and River Forest High School created yet another citizens committee to study facilities we were dubious.
After all, how many permutations of blue ribbon this and that can one school muster to create a buildings plan that gets some buy-in? The school had gone through nearly a decade of failed and flopped planning, and it culminated in a totally divisive and pretty much epic battle over either, or both, the size and cost of a swimming pool or the school’s tattered credibility in the villages.
When Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams cajoled the fresh-faced school board to let her create a new citizens process where every issue that related to facilities and new teaching configurations was on the table, where an outside facilitator led the process, where the leading pro- and anti-pool forces were named as co-chairs, it seemed impossible.
Now we are a few months into the Imagine OPRF process and its diverse leaders are singing from the same hymnal. It’s fair, open and productive, they say. It’s on schedule to produce detailed recommendations to the school board in the first half of the new year. Having the superintendent out of commission for three months due to a planned surgery might upset the trajectory. But then again, maybe not.