By Terry Dean
More money for technology and a spruced up outside mall are among the priorities for the upcoming school year at Oak Park and River Forest High School.
The administration laid out its Fiscal Year 2013 budget plans before the OPRF school board on March 8. The presentation was a follow-up to a January report by the school's advisory leadership team (ALT), which comprises school staff and community members. That group proposed a 1 percent cut in the school's education fund next year, followed by spending cuts of less than 1 percent in that fund in future years.
The school plans to spend more on technology — roughly a half-million dollars more than the previous year — during the 2012-2013 school year, officials said.
Despite that new spending, they maintain, the budget will meet the 1 percent reduction target. The two-year faculty contract approved in January, which includes a pay freeze for teachers next year, is also reflected in the budget, officials note. Total spending in the education fund will come in around $51.7 million, compared to just over $50 million last year.
Next year's budget includes $490,000 for technology, including a newly-redesigned website, which the school hopes to launch this summer, as well as projectors for some classrooms and a new phone system.
Next year's budget also allocates money to improve the outside mall on East Avenue north of Lake Street. Between $50,000 and $80,000 will go toward furniture, trash cans and a band shelter. School officials said they'll reach out to the Huskie Boosters to help cover the cost for the mall redo. The mall upgrades are a part of the high school's modified closed campus (MCC) policy, which prohibits freshmen and sophomores from leaving the building during lunchtime but will allow them access to the outside mall.
The school also plans to put furniture in the Student Center next year. The center was closed to students beginning last fall but parts of the area, namely the second-floor balcony and the Little Theater, have since been opened to students during lunchtime.
In addition, the school will expand the hours available at its tutoring center to reach more students. The center is currently available to kids before, during and after school, but Supt. Steven Isoye said additional teachers will be added to the existing staff.
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