Final OPRF focus group Saturday
OAK PARK — Oak Park-River Forest High School will hold a final strategic planning focus group this Saturday.
All adult residents of Oak Park and River Forest are invited to share their thoughts about OPRF during the session, which runs from 10-11:30 a.m. Dec. 1 at the school, 201. N. Scoville Ave. in Oak Park, according to OPRF.
OPRF held one such session on Nov. 17. At it, residents shared many ideas, including what they’d like to see at the school.
Nancy Bauer wanted to see a little more diversity in her son’s world literature class, which in her opinion is heavily skewed toward literature of the African diaspora, to the exclusion of Asians and Latinos. Catherine Schaters wished for more outdoor space where her children could enjoy fresh air and take a break during lunchtime. Jeannie Affelder was impressed with the school’s extra-curricular offerings, especially music and drama.
These are among dozens of observations about 20 individuals and organization representatives offered during the Nov. 17 focus group session. The sessions are part of a process for developing a strategic plan with five or six goals to be driven by the School Board and carried out by staff over the next five years.
“I think it’s important that it not be a dusty document shelved after all that work,” said lead facilitator Allan Alson.
A former school superintendent from Evanston, Alson and Pat Maunsell, a former Chicago Public Schools educator, were hired in July to start the strategic planning process. They have worked with a 60-member steering committee since October, sharing academic and financial data.
Alson and Maunsell also have met several times with students, faculty, non-faculty staff, and division heads and administrators.
“Bottom line is, how do all kids get served in a way that drives academic achievement as well as social and emotional learning?” Alson told the group. “When you have 60 people who live here every single day and live and breath this school, and you have others who have never set foot in the building, you have an obligation to bring these people together and reconcile their priorities and points of view.”
Participants were broken into four groups, each charged with brainstorming what they believed were the school’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. After the brainstorming session, participants were asked to review the results, placing up to 12 stickers next to statements they thought were most important.
Participants overwhelmingly affirmed the high school’s academic excellence and diversity. However, they also expressed concern about a perceived lack of coordination between Oak Park School District 97 and the high school and the population pressures it’s expected to face over the next decade.
“It was surprising and affirming to see the issues I have are consistent throughout the groups,” Bauer said.
Anyone planning to attend Saturday’s session is asked to RSVP to email@example.com, or call (708) 434-3511.