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Community Updates on What's Happening at
Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200

Spring 2019

Cause for Applause 

  • Senior Leila Winn won the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, advancing to the international competition.
  • Junior Sonia Zartman won the state-wide Shakespeare Monologue Competition, advancing to the national round at Lincoln Center in New York.
  • Senior Maeve Doody qualified for the Speech and Debate Nationals after winning for Humorous Interpretation at the Illini District Tournament. 
  • Visual Arts teachers Mark Collins and Tracey Van Duinen presented at the National Art Education Association annual conference in Boston. Only one-third of the 1,700 presentations submitted were chosen.
  • English teacher Elizabeth Farrow was a finalist for the prestigious 2019 Golden Apple Award.
  • Senior Eddie Bolivar won the IHSA Individual State Wrestling Championship in the 132-pound weight class, while the wrestling team took second place at the IHSA Dual State Wrestling Tournament. 

Board Updates

Board election results. Congratulations to newly elected Board members Gina Harris and Ralph Martire, as well as current member Sara Spivy, who was reelected for another four-year term. On Monday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Board Room, we will thank and say farewell to retiring members Fred Arkin and Jennifer Cassell before the new Board is seated and elects officers. 

Town hall update. On April 10, the Board held a town hall focused on the topics of racial equity and school safety. About 50 community members attended to ask questions and make comments. Of particular interest were what the high school is doing to coordinate with feeder districts on racial equity and how racial equity coaching for teachers is implemented. To watch the video of the town hall, click here to go to the link on our website.

Teaching & Learning

New role to boost job readiness. Amid growing recognition that U.S. high schools need to do more to prepare students to enter the workforce, D200 has created the new position of post-secondary pathways coordinator, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The coordinator will be particularly focused on creating pathways in career and technical education (CTE), including opportunities to earn work certifications and/or college credit while still in high school. OPRF already offers classes that prepare students to enter a number of career fields directly after high school, including nursing assistant, culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive technology, and child care.

District to host key educator conference. For the second summer in a row, OPRF will host the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) Summit for educators around the country. SEL teaches students how to manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Research has shown that SEL is a crucial component of students' education, resulting in improved school climate and academic achievement as well as better outcomes later in life. More than 300 educators attended the conference last year, 40 of them from OPRF.

Racial Equity

Racial Equity is one of the six major goal areas of the district's strategic plan. To learn more about this year's initiatives, click here.
 
New racial equity policy. On Thursday, April 25, the administration will present a new racial equity policy for Board approval. Developed by a committee of teachers, students, administrators, board members, and community members, the policy is intended to directly impact and reduce inequities of opportunity and enable students of color to gain greater access to and success in college prep, honors, and Advanced Placement courses. The goal is to truly foster an environment where race, class, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics will cease to be a determining factor in the success of any student. Click here to read the proposed policy. 

New position: Executive director of equity and student learning. To make sure that the district is achieving its goals around racial equity, the Board has approved the new position of executive director of equity and student learning, beginning July 1. Reporting directly to the superintendent, this person will, among other responsibilities, lead professional development on issues of cultural competency, equity, and inclusion; collaborate with teachers to develop and sustain equitable classroom practices; and develop metrics to evaluate the district's equity work. 

Finance

District reduces 2018 property taxes by $5.8 million. District 200 is one of 28 Illinois school districts eligible to receive a new Property Tax Relief Grant from the state. To receive the grant, a district must agree to abate--that is, reduce--property taxes up to a certain allowable limit, which for D200 is $5.8 million. The state is reimbursing the district approximately $3.8 million in state funds to offset the abatement. This reduces the district's portion of the annual tax bill for a $400,000 market value home by approximately $280. (Note that because the District is just one of the local taxing bodies, a property owner's total tax bill may still increase.) This net reduction in the tax levy also means that the total taxes extended for District 200 will be below its 2010 tax level.  

Community Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) launches. An outcome of the strategic plan, this new committee comprising members of the board, administration, and community has held three meetings so far. The group is charged with reviewing the annual budget and five-year projections, analyzing revenue and expenditures, monitoring the fund balance, and generally providing input on the district's finances. To see ongoing updates on committee meetings, click here. For an overview of the district's current financial state, which was presented to the committee in March, click here.
Communications
District branding project coming soon. Whether it's a version of the school crest, a paw print, or maybe a huskie dog, many different symbols have been used to say "OPRF." In the coming months the district will launch a project to create a consistent visual look for all high school communications. We'll be seeking community input, so stay tuned for details!
Imagine OPRF Facilities Project 1
Design architect selected. In a competitive selection process, the district has chosen FGM Architects as the design architect for Project 1, which is expected to break ground in June 2020. FGM will spend the next year creating specific plans for the first Imagine project, which will include the renovation/construction of 76 general education classrooms, learning spaces for the Special Education TEAM (Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream) program, the first phase of a student commons, a student resource center, all-gender restrooms, and more. Read more.

Capital campaign planned to
help fund future projects. When the Board approved Imagine Project 1, it also directed administrators to propose a funding plan for a second, future facilities project by May 2020. That project likely would include physical education facilities at the south end of the building. The Board specified that any funding plan should include private donations of at least $10 million. In order to begin exploring the feasibility of a large capital campaign, the Board has approved creation of the Imagine Fund at the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. Learn more here.

Upcoming Performances

  • Spoken Word - April 30, 6:30 p.m.
  • Synchronized Swimming - May 2, 7:30 p.m. + May 1, 4:00 p.m. + May 4, 7:30 p.m.
  • Little Theatre: "She Kills Monsters" - May 10, 11, 16 &17, all at 7:00 p.m. 
  • Choral Concert - May 15, 7:00 p.m.
  • Orchestra Concert - May 21, 7:00 p.m.
  • Symphonic Band Concert - May 22, 7:00 p.m.
  • Wind Symphony/Ensemble Concert - May 23, 7:00 p.m.

    
For a look at day-to-day life inside OPRF, follow us on social media!

Copyright © 2019 Oak Park and River Forest High School - District 200, All rights reserved.


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