D91 board: Forest Park teachers, thanks for working during 'rare weather event'

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By Jean Lotus

Editor

Saying they, "apologized if they failed to meet expectations," the Forest Park elementary school board this week made public its letter to the community concerning the district's decision to keep schools open last week during dangerously cold weather.

The District 91 board also sent the letter to its school district employees, thanking them for coming to work under such conditions. Schools were open last Monday and Tuesday Jan. 6, and 7, in spite of historic low temperatures.

The letter both apologized to anyone who disagreed with the district's decision and also praised teachers and staff who braved "polar vortex" temperatures so, "children would have a safe and warm place to go."

The letter, signed by board President Frank Mott, stated the district's policy concerning emergency school closings. The superintendent, according to the letter, makes the call about such closings.

"There may be disagreement about whether the keeping the schools open was the right decision and the board acknowledges that the decision negatively impacted some in our community," the letter stated.

The letter noted that other public municipal facilities were open during the cold weather, including Forest Park Village Hall, the Park District, and Forest Park Public Library.

The D91 board would re-examine district policies for emergency closings and emergency communications, the letter stated, to see if, "this type of situation would be better handled in the future."

The board also noted that staff who were unable to come in on severe weather days should not have that fact reflected badly on them. The board drafted the letter during a special meeting Jan. 10, after deciding in a prior meeting that the community needed to hear from members. Board members said they got "lots of phone calls and emails" during the Jan. 6-7 cold snap.

Although some members were reluctant to send a letter, board members Heather Cianciolo, Rafael Rosa and Sean Blaylock pushed for the communication, which required the special meeting.

See the letter here:

Community Letter

Contact:
Email: jlotus@forestparkreview.com Twitter: @FP_Review

Reader Comments

22 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Dre Smith from Forest Park   

Posted: January 21st, 2014 3:53 PM

Concerned Parent - With all due respect I know for a fact that you are mistaken. Put in a request and take a look at some blueprints if you don't believe me. A good friend of mine has personally seen the large basement at Betsy Ross, and I have seen actual pictures of the basement there. I understand that Grant-White also has a basement. I don't think that the Grant-White blueprint is lying.

The master from Forest park  

Posted: January 21st, 2014 1:01 PM

Grant white and betsey Ross both have basements. Want to lie some more?

Concerned Parent from Forest Park  

Posted: January 21st, 2014 9:51 AM

Dre, none of the D91 schools have basements.

Dre Smith from Forest Park  

Posted: January 21st, 2014 1:04 AM

Bill D - Many of the D91 schools already have basements. There is no digging to do! Some cleanup and hardening modifications may be necessary, but seeking shelter below ground is much safer than being in the hallways. D91 currently has the kids seek shelter in the hallways. I am an old timer so I remember the 1990 Plainfield tornado. It was an F5 storm. The high school was not in session, but the hallways were destroyed. Anyone in the hallways would have been badly injured or worse.

Bill D  

Posted: January 20th, 2014 6:32 PM

People here are bitching about D91 spending $3.5 million on long-delayed and badly needed room improvements, and Dre is suggesting the district spent many times that on building underground facilities. Done any research on how expensive digging down and building underground is?

jerry from forest park  

Posted: January 20th, 2014 5:20 PM

Dre, Interesting comment on underground shelter, can you name any schools that have them. I don't believe any of the schools we have read about that were hit with tornado's had them.

Dre Smith from Forest Park  

Posted: January 20th, 2014 3:47 PM

Here's a simple cold weather policy: Step 1. Google "NWS Windchill Chart" Step 2. Close the schools if the forecast indicates a windchill index that will cause frostbite to exposed skin in under ten minutes. This is easy stuff that keeps kids safe and avoids possibly devastating legal liability. Other easy things include not exceeding the legal maximum occupancy in school gyms and making sure that new additions have underground shelters in case of a tornado.

No one from No where  

Posted: January 20th, 2014 2:46 PM

The union was doing what unions should do -- being the voice for the employees who, on the one hand are being told to stay off the roads by the state, and, on the other hand, being told "school is open." There needs to be a clearer policy in situations like that. FWIW, most staff do not live in FP and many have children who had their own day care or schools canceled.

Strange from Forest Park  

Posted: January 19th, 2014 12:24 PM

Lin, I think you might be on to something. I think this is all about the teachers union. Where is the letter from the library, Village Hall, Community Center or Park District? Their staff had to report to work too. Oh that's right. Not a single complaint about them being open. Strange, don't you think? I think this is more about personally attacking Cavallo than the actual issue of having to report to work.

Lin  

Posted: January 17th, 2014 4:36 PM

I can only assume the teachers Union probably filed a grievance againt the board -- this is part of their apology in process to staive off bad vibes.

what's it all about then? from Unfortunateburg  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 9:37 PM

Initial FPR comments had genuine sounding folks angry at LCavallo's actions. Also board and LC report lots of direct feedback through email, etc. These outraged anonymous FPR commenters of late come across, as LookAgainDjeena suggested, like they're beating a head horse. Why? The recent "dead horse" comments reminds one of similarly anonymous attacks on LC by the Mannix-linked site ForestParkTruthSquad. Concerned parents email the board. Political sockpuppets post faux outrage in comments.

Good reasons for keeping schools open  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 8:05 PM

Per "the master": "guarentee" "plausable" "kept opened"

the master from forest park  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 7:42 PM

first off bill, it's just an online handle, I could refer to myself as peabrain too (expecting a lame comment back from you since i just pitched you that one) and still get my point across. I guarentee back when you were a little kid they didn't have school in that type of weather, pretty much guarenteed. There's no plausable reason why the whole city pretty much shut down and one school district decided to stay open. It's not about the kids, IMO. Something much deeper.

Dre Smith from Forest Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 3:34 PM

It's a nice letter, but there is absolutely no excuse for Dr. Cavallo's decision. He needs to show that he won't make the same reckless mistake again. When state officials say to stay off the roads they probably have a good reason behind that recommendation. All the other superintendents in the area "got the memo." Are we gonna need something like a state law to keep superintendents prone to foolish and dangerous decisions in check? The Prevention of Cavallo Act?

Bill D  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 11:14 AM

Add "the master" (bit grandiose, dontcha think, pal?) to the list of name calling trolls on the FPR website. Disagree and you're a moron. Whatever. Congrats to the D91 Supt. and the school board for addressing this controversy openly. You can't please everyone, especially people who consider themselves "masters". Masters of what, exactly is not clear. But there's a joke in that name somewhere.

Gina Thomas from Forest Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 7:52 AM

I have no idea if keeping the schools open was the right thing to do or not but from the information we've been fed, it seems like the motivation was a good one. I don't think anybody can say that the intention was to put people in danger. I appreciate the effort made to look out for families that may not have any other place for their kids and that D91 has been thoughtful to consider this in retrospect and to publicly acknowledge and respond to concerns over this. Refreshing!

Patrick from Forest Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2014 7:06 AM

Just no way to please everyone. I applaud them for keeping the schools open. Some parents have to work and have a hard time finding someone on short notice to watch kids. As far as you negative people. You had and have to choice to keep you kids home!!! People call "wolf" so often these days over stupid little things that when the time comes and "wolf" does need to be called, no one will listen!!!!

Tony D'Andrea from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 15th, 2014 11:53 PM

Right decision to stay open. Some parents do have to go work, and a warm, supervised place for their children is much needed. On a lighter note - coming from a warm country to live in a safety-minded America, I just can't understand why authorities haven't declared ILLEGAL to live in dangerously cold areas... :-)

the master from forest park  

Posted: January 15th, 2014 9:47 PM

/// no, not really. We need to keep putting the morons, like you that defend them keeping the schools opened in their place and stand up for what should have happened. There's still no plausable excuse given, in my book, as to why the schools were kept opened. Do you really think in your right mind that any parent would just send their kid out in the cold for the day while they're at work? It's just a big song and dance routine at this point.

Look Again Djeena  

Posted: January 15th, 2014 7:20 PM

The library and the park district serve children. Hasn't this "whole schools open on two super cold days" subject been beaten to death? Enough already.

Robert snydeR from Forest park  

Posted: January 15th, 2014 7:16 PM

Yea pass the buck and cover your ass.

Djeena  

Posted: January 15th, 2014 6:44 PM

Now the library really DOES shelter homeless people during inclement weather...the school, not so much! And theast time I looked, none of the other buildings that opened are ones that serve children...

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