Worried about granddaughter's future at D97

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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My daughter attended Longfellow School from kindergarten to sixth grade. She received an excellent education there from many fine teachers, in particular, the late Earl Bitoy, winner of the prestigious Kohl Award, who exemplified everything that's great about teachers.

Later on, my daughter and her family moved to Geneva, Ill., an idyllic town on the Fox River. But, as soon as her daughter was ready to enter kindergarten, back to Oak Park they moved! The schools in Geneva were just so-so and lacked any diversity whatsoever. My daughter wanted more for her child. Now her daughter attends Longfellow, the same school her mother went to. Or will it be the same?

I am heartsick about this. I'm facing the possibility that my own granddaughter won't have the same educational opportunities her mother did in the '70s and '80s. If the referendum fails, instrumental music, CAST and elementary art will be eliminated. Maybe some people don't understand it, but this would be devastating to us and our family. These are the very areas that my granddaughter excels in. We can't necessarily afford private lessons and there would be no band or orchestra experience. No art class? Elementary school is where children learn all the basic techniques and understanding about art that they can use as they progress through school, and as lifelong learners.

We must maintain quality schools in Oak Park. Vote yes.

Elizabeth Rexford
Oak Park, retired District 97 teacher

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Reader Comments

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User Fees? from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 7:37 PM

OPRFHS is now assessing annual "book fees" of $320 per student. Perhaps there's some room for increased "user fees" at D97?

Tech Question from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 7:22 PM

@Numbers -Thanks. I know there are more folks that work for these programs than just the 4 mentioned (like the entire summer staff and the visiting directors). Their pay must come from fundraising? Just the rigging for some of the shows would cost more than $15,000, so those costs must be subsidized somehow as well. Seems to me we can still have some theater even if not at the current level-entirely funded w/o D97 help. Anyone know the full budgets for Cast/Bravo?

Voting yes but wanting change  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 4:47 PM

Bravo and Cast should be supported by user dollars not tax dollars. Same with instumental band. Tax dollars should only be used by programs that include the majority. More user based fees must be included. Scholarships then can be awarded to users that need financial assistance.


Posted: March 28th, 2011 10:39 AM

Mrs. Rexford - You are seeing why so many people choose to post anonymously (including myself) because of the personal attacks made by others. Thanks for your positive letter. I'm sorry for the behavior of a few other posters.


Posted: March 28th, 2011 10:37 AM

@ TechQuestion - The D97 contribution to the BRAVO/CAST programs is the pay for the 2 directors, pay for a secretary each, and $15,000 annually as seed money to each program. This comes out to about $215,000 annually for positions and support.

Elizabeth Rexford from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 10:05 AM

I have been hurt by personal attacks here. I admit, however, my years at Whittier were not my best, for a number of reasons. Also, Steve, in regard to what you think my pension is, you are way off on the figures. After seeing these comments, by people without their real names, I'm thinking I really would rather not write letters to the Editor anymore.

Tech Question from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 6:58 PM

A few years ago D97 wanted to slash the CAST/Bravo budgets because they had a lot of money in the bank. Turned out that most of the money was from fund raising. D97 managed to find cuts elsewhere after the outcry. Does anyone know what percentage of the Cast/Bravo budgets are actually funded by D97? Perhaps the impact of a cut will be on the speech/debate classes and not the school plays?

Marge from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 4:53 PM

Shame on the Wednesday Journal staff for censoring Former Whittier's comments! Ms. Rexford's article is an attempt to advance her opinion on a polititial topic. Whittier's comments offered some historical perspective in opposition to her remarks. The comments shouldn't have been deleted. This isn't Red China.

Former Whittier School Student  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 3:14 PM

Maybe all this wildness would explain why the school administration sent "wild" kids to Dr. Wilson in Elmhurst Illinois. Yep, brainwave scan and then a prescription for Ritalin and an antiepileptic drug. The school sent kids to Dr. Wilson by the truckload because they could count on him to do what they wanted. This doctor wasn't respected by the medical community. Sorry people, this is the truth. Just thought you should know.

Former Whittier School Student from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 3:02 PM

Well, the WJ staff has deleted my orginal posts. Censorship is never a good thing. I took music class at Whittier in the 80s. It was 6 years of absolute chaos. The classroom was so disorderly that it was impossible to "learn" anyting. Sorry if this offends anyone, but the truth is the truth. The kids used music class as an opportunity to act wild and crazy. This continued all 6 years of elementary school. Vote NO for the school tax increase.

you have got to be kidding me  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 9:49 PM

former whittier student, you make a classless (npi) comment like that and then you backpedal with "I didn't intend to be mean spirited regarding music class at Whittier. " ORLY. Such nastiness. Obviously has not much to do with your teachers. Clearly you weren't raised with manners.

Oak Park mom voting yes  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 6:37 PM

@Steve. It's not about afterhours activities. It's about who's going to pay the premium -to buy your house someday- to live in a school district with no/little art, music, and language options? I hate high taxes too. But let's be realistic. People pay half a million dollars for a 100 year old 3 br 1.5 bath here instead of half that for 5000 square feet somewhere else because of what we have here. And schools are the #1 deciding factor. Town with crappy schools - you don't get those buyers.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 5:16 PM

Really think that finance classes are what should be offered after the last 2 years of various agency (banking, housing, auto-are schools next?) implosions and maybe an ethics course or 2. Also agree w/Steve - the $$ saved on property taxes can be spent on extracurriculars as the property owner sees fit & tailored to an individual childs' interests - some like music others prefer sports.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 4:37 PM

Oops... Should not sould.

Joe from River Forest  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 4:36 PM

@Violet: What was worng with Former Whittier's spelling and grammar? The only thing I could find was 80's which sould be 80s. Common mistake. But he/she was educated in Oak Park so we should be a little understanding.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 4:16 PM

@violet. So you agree teachers make a lot of money. Ok that's all I was going for. Thanks

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 3:51 PM

@Steve: Yeah and if I sprouted wings I'd be a dove...What does your financial situation have to do with someone else's? Go back to school and become a teacher! Why is everyone supposed to make peanuts because some people chose certain professions? I would rather you go bitch at CEOs, hedge fund managers and leave public servants ALONE!!!!!!

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 3:47 PM

I, too, went to Whittier and had great teachers all around (Mrs. Rexford included!). The problem I have is that the taxes are sooo high and yet they are pinching pennies at District 97?! With the rate as high as it is, the schools shouldn't even have to TALK about cutting squat. There has to be massive waste happening somewhere...

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 3:44 PM

@Whittier: "I TRULEY feel..." LOL- irony: it's what's for dinner. Yes dear, Whittier must have failed you. Oh, and it ain't Ms. Rexford's fault that spelling and grammar are not your forte.

Music Lover  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 3:41 PM

@Former Whittier Student - I don't know why you're still p---ed off. Sounds like your problem, not the school's.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 2:34 PM

Elizabeth, you retired in 2003 making $95,000 a year. Your pension began @ $56,000 and now you make roughly $70,000 a year and pay hardly anything in health benefits and pay zero in state income tax. Please correct me if i'm wrong. I'm sorry i don't feel any pity for you. If i retire from my private sector job and take all my retirement savings and buy 10yr treasuries @ a 3.50% yield, i will need to buy $2 million dollars worth, actually more due to taxes.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 2:20 PM

You don't have money for private lessons? Take the $500 to $1000 you will save by voting NO and put your child in a private or semi-private art class. You will have money left over for dinner afterwards. I will have kids going to District 97 schools soon and i'm afraid of not having enough money to pay for art supplies or an instrument because all my money has gone to taxes. My vote is to keep my money. Vote no

Steve from OP  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 2:06 PM

The yes crowd are like the Bushes during the previous gulf war in my opinion. If you are against the referendum, then you must be against the schools and the arts. Just as if you weren't for the war in Iraq then you weren't a patriot and didn't support the troops. The YES crowd needs to back off the bombastic rehtoric and try to have a debate. The NO crowd is not against education or the Art. I think the general belief is that D97 have NOT been good stewards of our money over.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:53 PM

Has Ms Rexford inquired as to why the board & the D97 admin has put the musical & the visual arts on the chopping block. Why aren't the YES parents marching to the D97 office to ask the Sup to create a new list of cuts? Why is it that only passing the referendum the only way to save these cuts? 90% of the parents that I have spoken to don't want these cuts yet they have not voiced their concern to the Sup or the board. Will the YES parents join in on a petition to stop these cuts?

Former Whittier School Student  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:14 PM

Sorry, I didn't intend to be mean spirited regarding music class at Whittier. I truely feel Dist 97 failed me on so many levels. Music class was just one example of a long, long list. I hope all the teachers I had back then are enjoying their retirement and the large pensions they will get for the rest of their life. I must of had a bad experience back then, why else would I still be pissed off 30 years later?


Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:06 PM

I do not agree with mean spiritedness but am wondering why music class always seems to be the class kids dislike most when they get to middle school - my children are in h s and the memories of what so and so did during music are always amazing - books out the window, tacks on the chairs, the list goes on - maybe this concept should be addressed more as an elective process, like in college, so kids who are really interested participate, less chaos, more learning-some things are not for everyone.

D97 teacher /parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 8:52 PM

Mean-spirited comments do nothing to further the discussion. People have feelings. You can make a point without being rude. (And we love Mrs. Rexford and her daughter and her granddaughter!)

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