Homecoming is unlikely to happen this September at Oak Park and River Forest High School, District 200 board members and administrators conceded during a May 19 Committee of the Whole meeting.
The discussion about homecoming was prompted by D200 administrators presenting a contract to the board for Boom Entertainment, the company that has provided DJ services for OPRF’s homecoming dance for the past 12 years.
Greg Johnson, D200’s associate superintendent, said at the meeting that the contract included a Sept. 26 date for homecoming even though it’s unlikely that the event will happen then. Administrators took that step at the request of Boom, which made changes to the contract in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson said.
Johnson said Boom will allow the district to postpone homecoming to a later time next school year or to cancel without incurring penalties, as long as the cancellation is at least 60 days prior to the event, which would be July 26.
Boom would charge the district $30,958 to provide entertainment for this year’s homecoming dance, according to a contract that administrators put up for board review. That’s a 5.5 percent increase over last year, officials said, adding that Boom had not increased its price in several years.
“Not only will they put on the same show this year, but they will work with OPRF to make it unique,” Susan Johnson, D200’s director of student activities, wrote in a May 19 memo. “Though we have used Boom for 12 years, in 2016 we did research other companies to make sure we were getting the best deal.
“Hands down, Boom Entertainment put on the most flawless show in all schools and was attractive to a diverse population,” she wrote. “The company knows our facility, our students and our culture and ensures three hours of healthy and safe entertainment for 71 percent of our student body. We will look into other companies again next year to make sure that we are still receiving competitive pricing.”
Last school year, more than 2,300 OPRF students attended the dance, which is held in the field house, officials said. The dance, they added, generates its own revenue primarily through ticket sales.
Some board members, Ralph Martire in particular, questioned why the date ought to be included at all when it’s highly unlikely that homecoming will happen then.
“We’re not securing a date,” Martire said. “It’s not going to happen in September. It’s just not. We have a date in here that is not a real date. And the future date is a to-be-determined date … I don’t see why we put a date in here that everyone knows is a bad date … I just think the Sept. 27 date is beyond unrealistic.”
Johnson, who acknowledged that homecoming is unlikely to happen on Sept. 26, said that the date was put in the contract as a marker designed to lock in the current terms that Boom was offering in light of the pandemic.
“Rather than jumping out in front of next fall’s calendar at this point in the game and start to cancel specific events, we wanted to try to get these rates in place given the timeline we had,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who did not rule out the possibility of homecoming happening at some point later in the school year, told Martire that “I hear your note of caution. We’ll go back to [Boom] and see if these same terms are possible without that precise date.”
Supt. Joylyn Pruitt-Adams said that a lot hinges on “how the state reopens and what the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Oak Park Department of Public Health give as guidance” in the coming months.