To those afraid of the tax costs of rehabbing the OPRF High School Physical Education facilities, I ask you, have you toured the facilities our students deal with every day, every semester for four years?

To those who voted against the pool referendum, citing its cost or need, I ask you, have you seen the OPRF pools’ condition? The drained one is closed with dangerously rusting pipes underneath; the other is 94 years old, picking up the student overflow, tiny for the average class of 40, inaccessible to locker rooms across the Field House, and speeding toward the same fate as its sister. All OPRF students need swimming to graduate.

To those reluctant to pay a tax increase, I ask you, what is the cost of doing nothing for their PE facilities? It’s not just the pool replacement. The entire PE wing needs massive, investment. All the gyms are too small, too low-ceilinged, poorly ventilated, leaky-roofed, and lacking essential air conditioning.

Have you sat with 84 students college testing in those gyms without air conditioning, struggling in the 90 degree heat? Some OPRF gyms don’t even have windows! Have you seen the PE hallways crowded with equipment because the teams and programs OPRF offers our kids lack storage space? It’s dangerous. Every student, every day goes through that PE wing for a piece of their education. The cost of doing nothing is far greater than the bonds and taxes to fund the work. The repair will become more expensive the longer we wait.

OPRF doesn’t just educate our children but also anchors our property values, whether you have students enrolled or not. The wing desperately needs the complete rehabilitation outlined in the Imagine OPRF plan. Daily PE is an academic class and state graduation requirement. The PE department sees every student in the building every day for four years; no other department has that student contact.

To impact the greatest number of students, upgrading the PE facilities is the best investment to make and must be prioritized. This community is too well resourced to continue with sub-standard and hazardous facilities for our students.

Nancy Alexander
Oak Park

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