Voices that Matter — Community member wants you to “Vote Yes” for D200 referendum

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

You may have noticed orange signs going up in people’s yards, urging a yes vote for D200. This is about a referendum on November’s ballot for a bond issue for Oak Park River Forest High School District 200. This bond is to complete a major school renovation, which would include replacing the pools and adding much needed space for the growing band, orchestra and chorus programs at OPRFHS.

I have planted many of the signs around River Forest, and I strongly urge you to support this referendum. I don’t like increases in my property taxes, but bond issues are appropriately used when interest rates are low and major capital improvements need to be made. The District 200 school board has wisely kept funds in reserve to deal with the many challenges facing the school district, including a sizeable achievement gap.

The band and orchestra programs at the high school have completely outgrown their spaces, as have the choral and theatre programs. This is an exciting problem to have and reflects the community’s on-going commitment to arts education.*

And, yes, the nearly 100 year old pools at the high school have outlived their useful life. They are past the point of repair. The District 200 school board has been studying this issue for nearly ten years. Millions of dollars have been spent on consultants and architects. Pools are expensive, but they serve the needs of EVERY child at OPRF. They teach one of the few skills in high school that could actually save someone’s life. They make sure EVERYONE who graduates from the high school knows how to swim, and a large portion of the students who attend OPRFHS arrive not knowing how. The pools are used from 8AM-3PM by PE classes. I support this referendum because we need to continue this tradition of excellence at OPRFHS, one which disproportionally affects students of color, who are significantly less likely to know how to swim.

I spend a lot of time on pool decks with daughters who swim and play water polo. This is not a proposal to build a state of the art Olympic pool, it is not luxurious pool like many of the high school pools of our western suburban neighbors. This is an adequate pool to meet the needs of teaching PE and maintaining the swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming programs the high school has offered in the 21st century. Our kids will no longer have to traverse the field house clad in bathing suits or fish dead rodents out of the pool before morning practices.

So, please vote yes in November. Please consider signing the open letter to the editor. I’m happy to plant a yard sign in your yard and/or give you a button to wear to show your support. Just email and we’ll gladly get your name on the list or visit http://www.voteyesd200.com

Thanks for your thoughtful consideration.

Mary Hope Griffin

42 Ashland Ave.

River Forest

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