OPRF's antiquated swimming requirement

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By OPRF Pragmatic Solutions

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At the June 26 District 200 school board meeting, the Imagine OPRF Work Group will present its master facility plan proposal. It includes a total demolition of the south end of the building, including the field house, even though OPRF has repeatedly stated that the building is structurally sound. The underlying reason for the proposed demolition is to build a long-stretch pool, 40-yards long by 25-yards wide. 

It's déjà vu. On Dec. 1, 2014, the Pool Site Committee rejected two same-size pools, described as 37-meters long by 25-yards wide, due to prohibitive costs of $80 and $87 million, respectively.

Imagine's 40-yard pool, double the size of the pools used in Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state swimming championships, is just 3 meters shy of the 40-meter pool defeated in the 2016 pool referendum. This isn't surprising as the Imagine subgroup recommending the pool is stacked with big pool supporters. Imagine's pool has 16 swim lanes, five more than the school's 11 current lanes which are already a luxury for a high school, according to the 2013 school-commissioned Stantec Report. The "justification" for such a large pool is OPRF's burdensome and antiquated physical education (P.E.) swimming requirement.

The costs associated with OPRF's P.E. swimming program are significant, and it's arguably the most expensive class taught at the school. It's just common sense to update the self-imposed swimming requirement using evidence-based research and best practices before building a new pool. IHSA competitions typically use 8-lanes and swim laps of 25-yard lengths. This size pool will meet OPRF's needs once the requirement is updated, according to Stantec and IHSA standards. Compared to other options, this would be the most cost-effective pool solution and can be built in the east pool/south gym space, without demolishing the south end of the building and the field house.

Here are the facts:

 Swimming is not a state requirement; several schools in OPRF's conference have no pool or swimming requirement. 

 Swimming is the only class that is repeated twice in the school's P.E. rotation.

 It's a mandatory program. All students are required to take 18 weeks of swim instruction, with no option to test out. Yet according to OPRF, about 50% of incoming freshmen already know how to swim.

 Other local high schools do not require anything close to 18 weeks of swimming.

 Stevenson High School's program incorporates the new high school P.E. swim model. All students take the Red Cross swim test and those who pass choose another fitness option. Students who don't pass the basic-skills test are required to take one session of swimming, from 3 to 6 weeks in length depending on need.

The D200 school board and administration have conducted no known review or update of the burdensome swimming requirement, and the administration reportedly instructed the Imagine group not to consider it in making its recommendations for what is supposed to be a fiscally responsible master facility plan. The time is long overdue to update the costly 90-year-old swimming requirement for the 21st century.

Dori Bernstein, Marty Bernstein, Kitty Conklin, Jack Davidson, Bruce Kleinman, Maureen Kleinman, Amanda Massie, Michael Nevins, Lisa Pearah, Kevin Peppard, Gina Sennello, Monica Sheehan, Doug Springer, Leslie Sutphen

OPRF Pragmatic Solutions 

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Leslie Sutphen  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 7:13 PM

Leslie Roberts, most of us were there.Dori Bernstein, Marty Bernstein, Kitty Conklin, Maureen Kleinman, Amanda Massie, Michael Nevins, Lisa Pearah, Kevin Peppard, Gina Sennello, Monica Sheehan, Doug Springer, Leslie Sutphen. The real question is where was everyone else?

Bruce Kline  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 3:37 PM

I agree Leslie. But a democracy gets the leaders and policies it deserves. If and when this multimillion dollar IMAGINE monstrosity passes muster with the board and somehow comes to pass, I hope I don't hear anyone complaining about our "out of control property taxes." As you imply, we will get we so rightly deserve.

Leslie Roberts  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 2:28 PM

Very light turnout at the Dist 200 Board meeting Tues. 6/26/18 7 p.m. Too late for this Wednesday Journal issue. Where were all of you??? Thank you to the woman who addressed the Board about these swim class issues.

Gerri Humbert  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 1:05 PM

Dave - Financial Literacy is a required class for all OPRF students. Just ask my two sitting through summer school in this class as we speak.

Neal Buer  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 9:33 AM

Your judicious school board took an extra $100 million when you weren't looking.

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 9:01 AM

Already voted "no" once along with a majority of others. Let's see a show of hands on who thought this issue was done and over with. This is going to come up over and over until the pool folks get their damn pool. How about making a "Financial Literacy" class mandatory so our teens can understand how money works and how it will impact their lives forever? I'd vote for money for that. But then then the class will probably be held in a new pool.

Lisa Rone from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2018 8:33 AM

We need to trust that the school board is judicious and such antiquated rules breach citizen trust as does expenditures going up per child, school levies increasing but state rankings in academics are not what they should be. Why so much "pool" energy and not more attention given to improving academics?

Leslie Roberts  

Posted: June 26th, 2018 4:55 PM

Add name mine too!

Neal Buer  

Posted: June 26th, 2018 10:12 AM

Add my name to this letter.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: June 26th, 2018 9:08 AM

meeting mentioned below is TONIGHT - TUESDAY, JUNE 26

Kline Maureen  

Posted: June 26th, 2018 9:07 AM

The Imagine team is presented two concepts to the D200 School Board tonight at a special meeting at 7 PM in room 293E at the hs. Please attend if possible - the AGENDA is posted and includes links to an overview and schematic drawings of the two concepts - BOTH of which entail demolition of the existing Field House. Not cost estimates are provided. Link to AGENDA: https://intranet.oprfhs.org/board-of-education/board_meetings/Special_Meetings/Agendas/2017-18%20Special/20180626%20SPEC%20Agenda.pdf

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 26th, 2018 8:13 AM

If we are going to spend a ton of money for new pools wouldn't it be much more logical to build a park district facility that everyone could at least use? It's not like it's that hard to bus the kids to and from a location in OP. I am not advocating anything necessarily but it seems insane to me to spend this much money for something that's of very limited value to most of the community.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 25th, 2018 11:39 PM

The Imagine Group in no way speaks for the over 50,000 citizens in Oak Park or the 11,000 in River Forest. A puny group has bullied its way into position to try and force all of us to spend tens of millions on a pool we do not need. Any so called swim requirement can be met with summer school at the park district pools. The parents of the 100 kids on the swim team can go to Fenwick instead of forcing the rest of us to increase property taxes to fund their pool. Demolishing the field house is a non-starter. We already voted NO on the pool.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 1:18 PM

What is the matter with you people? You are talking sense. Talking sense in Oak Park is not allowed. Ever.

Amanda Poppenk Massie from Oak park  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 12:43 PM

By allowing students to "test out" if they can swim will give more 1on 1 instruction time with those students who need to learn to swim. Smaller class size equals better instruction whether in swim class or Math or Science. It just makes sense.

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