The article “OPRF communication audit cites 7 areas to improve,” which appeared in Wednesday Journal on July 5, reports that “while 77 percent of OPRF parents and 61 percent of school staff rate the school as excellent or above average, only 34 percent of the non-parent community did the same.” That means 66% of the non-parent community rate the high school as average or below average. The report seems to make 6 of its 7 recommendations on the “silo” issues of what is going on inside the high school.

I believe the single most important recommendation was number 7, “to implement tactics to engage stakeholders with no connection to the school.” The “no connection” mindset shows the “silo thinking” of the high school and the audit committee.

I would like to give some very broad examples of why recommendation number 7 should be the top priority for the high school, and to point out the basic flaw in the audit because everyone who lives or owns a business in Oak Park has a “connection” to the school. The numbers below are used as broad examples for illustrative purposes from Google searches and are not meant to be taken as exact figures.

There are 3,407 students at OPRF. There are 24,200 housing units (whatever that means) in Oak Park. If we assume there is one OPRF student for each housing unit (the best possible assumption for OPRF), that means there are 20,793 housing units in Oak Park that do not have a student at OPRF.

I am in that category. According to my latest available tax bill, I pay 24.37% of my real estate taxes to OPRF. I assume the other 20,793 housing units do the same. We are the backbone and core constituency of OPRF. We pay the bills. OPRF students and their parents just pass through for four or five years. OPRF students and their parents come and go. OPRF taxpayers are here mostly for the long term.

In addition, apparently the audit committee and the high school did not consider the fact that among the 20,794 housing units that presumably do not have a student at OPRF are housing units that have a “connection” to OPRF because they contain an elementary or middle-school student that will eventually attend OPRF.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a high school teacher in 2021 was $61,820. Any teacher/administrator at OPRF who makes more than that can thank the 20,793 residents of housing units that do not have a child attending OPRF for their salaries.

And what do these housing-unit residents think of OPRF? According to the article 66% think OPRF is not an excellent or above average high school, but an average or below average high school. And they apparently get that opinion from reading Wednesday Journal. Whether Wednesday Journal reports more negative than positive stories, or people only remember the negative stories, is unknown.

The report says that Supt. Greg Johnson is a “skilled communicator who understands the importance of public relations.” Communicators skilled in public relations should not ignore 86% of their target audience.

Let’s hope that the OPRF Communications Department is smart enough to break out of its “silo” and move recommendation number 7 up to recommendation number 1 or the high school is going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

I am a graduate of OPRF, Class of 1963, and a homeowner in Oak Park in the same house since 1973, when my Annual Real Estate Tax was $650.78. At that time, 24.7% of my real estate taxes went to OPRF. I have voted in support of every funding referendum for OPRF that has been held since 1973.

Join the discussion on social media!