In the Jan. 4 Viewpoints [OPRF’s Project 2 demands a true racial equity assessment], the Committee for Equity & Excellence in Education (CEEE) called for a true racial equity assessment of OPRF High School’s Project 2 — the proposed $100 million+ rebuild of athletic (1) facilities in the south end of the main building. Project 2 includes plans for a 10-lane, 40-by-25-yard pool with four diving boards and stadium seating for 420. A pool of this size would require the expensive demolition and reconstruction of part of the building.

CEEE is a multi-racial group of local residents calling for racial equity in D200. It points out that the high school’s Sept. 22 racial equity assessment, not released until December (2), didn’t follow its own racial equity policies and procedures (REPP). Specifically, it didn’t apply the Racial Equity Assessment Tool (REAT) or follow its community engagement protocol. Groups most harmed by past and current inequities were not involved. 

Did they fail to follow the REPP (3) because the high school already knew what would be found? Project 2 as it stands is inequitable. Though swimming classes and private groups would use the enormous new pool (4), a pool of its planned size and spectator seating clearly is designed for the aquatic teams. A standard high school competition pool is 20 by 25 yards (5) — half the size of the Project 2 plan.

The inequities here are also clear (6):

•      About 125 people participate on the aquatic teams, including managers. About 250 participate on the track and field teams.

•      Almost all aquatic team members are white. The track and field teams are the high school’s most diverse, by the administration’s own admission.

•      Project 2 makes the pool and some other gyms the first Imagine Plan athletic facilities to be constructed.

•      The Field House used by track and field teams is not addressed until Project 5. Given financial constraints, there is a serious question whether it will ever be built.

I thank the CEEE for raising important equity concerns and join them in calling for a true racial equity assessment (7) before any decisions are made about Project 2.

Judith Alexander
Oak Park

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