On Reopening Schools

Parents are in ongoing discussions here about whether our schools should re-open in the fall.

(Current estimated cost for reopening D97 is $11.5 million.
If schools don’t try to re-open, and we redirect even some of that money towards supplemental childcare through the Park District, addressing tech inequities for kids in need, and hiring additional teacher’s aides (lots of college students at home right now) to be Zoom support for students, might that be a better option for targeting the actual needs of the community, and keeping us all safer and healthier at the same time?)

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I pulled some stats for a local discussion thread, because people were asking why River Forest was planning to re-open elementary and we weren’t.

My understanding is that River Forest D90 (which only has 1/2 day kindergarten and goes only to 4th grade, not 5th, like ours) has been sitting on a very large fund balance for some time.

They also have a very different density than Oak Park — about 50% of Oak Park is in multi-unit housing. So our schools contend with very different issues; it’s really not useful to try to compare the two districts, I think.

River Forest:
• 2.5 square miles, about 11,200 people.

Oak Park:
• 4.7 square miles, about 52,000 people (we are packed MUCH more densely here)

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We also have a lot more kids in the schools who need services for needs which arise out of poverty. Kids who are hungry and need breakfast and lunch, kids without tech access at home who need loaner devices and WiFi hotspots, etc.

River Forest:
• As of the 2010 census, the median income for a household in the village was $122,854, and the median income for a family was $171,100.
• About 3.4% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line.

Oak Park:
• The estimated median annual income for a household in the village was $78,384, and the median income for a family was $105,217. (Our families are significantly less wealthy / household than in River Forest.)
• About 5.9% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line. (Close to twice as much of our population is living in poverty.)

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I gather that River Forest also has a higher percentage of stay-at-home and part-time work-from-home moms, which is probably why they haven’t been able to manage full-day kindergarten yet — not enough demand to make them spend the money.

River Forest:
Males working full-time had a median income of $124,695 versus $64,250 for females.

Oak Park:
Male full-time workers had a median income of $77,760 versus $58,653 for females.

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One last stat — in Oak Park, 9.0% of those under age 18 are living in poverty. That’s close to 1 in 10 of our kids in the schools.

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