The optics are pretty awful. After the defeat of the last District 200 bond referendum, the board decided to delegate decision making for an infrastructure plan to an appointed body of citizens while setting no limits on how much the plan could cost. The board would determine what to spend only after seeing this unconstrained plan.
In a parallel action, the board endorsed the making of a highly publicized film in which a handful of black students, most of whom were struggling academically, socially, or both, were given a platform for airing their complaints. Some felt their problems were largely due to overt or covert racism embedded in the white culture.
The interplay of these two board decisions has led some to suggest that it would be best to upgrade teaching and social facilities while delaying improvements in, or even abandoning, failing sports facilities. A main target has been the 90-year-old swimming pools. After all, the pools can be viewed as mainly benefiting advantaged white students, many of whom prefer aquatic sports. Never mind that black students, too, should learn how to swim.
Question: Did the recent construction of two modern middle schools in Oak Park actually reduce the gap in test scores?
The optics look still worse because the architects were unable to put a separate price on the proposed pool since it would be so thoroughly integrated with other improvements. This allowed the critics to assume the worst. But what about the rising cost of construction if the sports facilities improvements are simply delayed?
I commend Supt. Pruitt-Adams for pointing out that students who engage in sports typically perform better in their academics. She also said the board should consider rectifying the most urgent facility needs as contained in Component D, including a new pool.
For me, that would greatly improve the optics.
Former village president
Answer Book 2018
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