By Jean Lotus
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: