Oak Park and River Forest High School was essentially closed during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day during the first week of Winter Break and OPRF District 200 school board member Fred Arkin wasn’t happy about it.
“I get the distinct impression that the building gets closed for the convenience of adults at the expense of students,” Arkin said at the Jan. 26 school board meeting as he called for the school board to discuss at a future meeting keeping the school open during the first week of Winter Break.
“This is the greatest asset in our community, this is why people move here, and I think the school should be open; we should be running programs during Winter Break,” Arkin said.
Arkin said students should be able to use the common spaces of the building during all of Winter Break.
“During the course of Winter Break our major spaces ought to be open, our resource center ought to be open, it ought to be a space for our students to come and fill their days, along with athletic facilities as well, intramural volleyball, basketball, swimming, whatever,” Arkin said.
Karin Sullivan, the executive director of communications for OPRF, told Wednesday Journal the school has been essentially shut down for one week over Winter Break for the past 20 years.
“Like a lot of schools, we shut down for one week during winter break, allowing time for construction and maintenance projects that can’t happen when students are in the building,” Sullivan said in an email.
Arkin said he wants the board to have a serious discussion about this.
“I think those things do not take priority over our students,” Arkin said.
After spending millions of dollars to upgrade the student commons and Learning Resource Center Arkin said those spaces should be open for student use as much as possible.
“I just don’t understand why kids couldn’t come into the school and utilize the workers space and utilize the collaborative areas that we have and I think that was part of reason that we created them.,” Arkin said.
Sullivan said the administration is open to discussing changing the current policy.
“As always, we’re happy to take a look at the potential impacts of such a change,” Sullivan said in an email.