District 97’s administration is not familiar with the community they serve. The recent articles on Safety and Security and Mental Health did not address which D97 positions will be eliminated to fund the new ones, nor was there any reference to the administration recognizing the services available in Oak Park. 

D97 is a large bureaucracy that is self-serving, has poor financial oversight, and is out of touch with Oak Park. D97 needs to set priorities, get their financial house in order and reach out to the Oak Park Police Department and Community Mental Health Board (CMHB) of Oak Park Township as a start. 

The village of Oak Park has an experienced and professional police department that could provide the services expected of a coordinator of safety and security. The township’s CMHB is charged with planning, developing, coordinating, evaluating, and funding services for persons with mental illnesses, alcohol or other drug dependence disorders, and developmental disabilities of all ages. The CHMB and the network they fund are in the best position to address the mental and emotional health challenges that are becoming increasingly common among students in the district’s general population. 

D97 does not need to hire their own staff for safety or mental health. The entire community would be better served when there is coordination among Oak Park governing bodies. All schools in Oak Park would be better served, including OPRF High School, if D97’s administration would have an understanding of the community and consider the community-at-large. 

D97 needs to remember that Oak Park “taxpayers” do not have an appetite for an ever-growing bureaucracy that does not set priorities and is out of touch with the community.

Richard J. Willis

Oak Park

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