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Parents in the classroom

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the “Bring Your Parents to School Day” event at D209’s Proviso East, shadowing one a student whose mom (a single parent) couldn’t come until later in the day. I attended four classes. This was the same day of the pep rally and homecoming court competitions so there was excitement in the air!

I was impressed that learning was occurring in the classes I visited, despite the fact that in one of the classes I felt the teacher unduly ignored chatter by two males who constantly talked during the lecture. Another male student, whom I was seated next to, constantly complained about being tired. His head was placed on his desk most of the time.

During the day, I heard from several teachers that they had no books and that photocopying paper was now at a premium. There were two non-working stoves in the food and nutrition classroom and it was mentioned that the supplies budget had been drastically cut.

One classroom was sweltering (with two fans going) and the teacher indicated that it was really, really unbearable several days before when the outside temperature was even higher. The classroom was also noisy with nearby window replacements. I, as well as the teacher, was perplexed as to why this type of construction didn’t happen over the summer?

This quickly brought to mind a suggestion I had made to the 209 board at a recent meeting-that if the board was truly interested in education, before any decision was made, the question ought to be asked: “How does this affect students and learning?”

Several of the teachers brought to my attention that the D209 administration had informed them that they wanted the teachers to take a two-week, without pay furlough, or face a RIF. This certainly didn’t make for a productive work environment that day/week.

When my student’s mom arrived, there were no more “goody-bags.” Was there low expectation towards parent participation? Also, no one explained what was in the bags and how the information included could have helped to navigate the day. Also, there were no refreshments for the parents. I ate lunch in the faculty lunch room and I had to borrow money because I was out of cash that day.

Finally, although PTSA officials were in the parent reception room at the start of the day, they were late setting up and their schedule of PTSA meetings was not included in the bags. It would have been productive to have had a PTSA table set up to attract parents to sign up. Overall, a refreshments table/lunch would have been more welcoming and might have conveyed the message that the school was looking forward to their visit.

Barbara Cole
Maywood

Fund balance, please

In May of this year, out-going commissioner Terry Steinbach pointed out that if the village of Forest Park received the projected tax dollars due us, there would be a $1.5 million shortfall. Mr. Sturino said that this was not true and that the village was financially sound.

At the Oct. 22 village council meeting there was an item on the agenda that will allow the village to borrow money from the VIP program. I know that the tax dollars have been slow in coming, but what happened to the $3.5 million reserve the mayor said the village had? I am curious because the money for our general fund and for the VIP program should come at the same time, since they are both funded by tax dollars.

The other thing that disturbs me is: Why do we have money in the VIP program to borrow? This money is for infrastructure improvements in the village, so it should have been spent on fixing streets, alleys, etc. It should not be a piggy bank for the village administration to dip into.

Jerry Webster
Forest Park

Tell us what you need

We want to once again thank this paper and its readers for their support of health and human services in our communities. We need to ask the readers of this paper for help with our mission.

Every five years the United Way of Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park undertakes a survey process to identify the current needs in our community.

We need to hear as many voices as possible. We have posted a survey online that is meant to provide a confidential means for hearing what is important to residents of Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest. The survey is at www.uwsurvey2007.org.

The results of this survey will help the UW-OPRFFP determine where it should allocate its resources. This year we are distributing over $661,000 to local agencies.

We need to hear your voice, and we are also asking people to spread the word to their churches, schools, book groups, support groups, sports teams, etc. by sharing the website. Please help us find out what our community needs.

Sarah Jolie, Dr. Liz Buhai-Jacobus
UW Survey Committee Co-Chairs

Proceed with caution

I’ve been concerned for months about people running stop signs in our Forest Park neighborhoods. But a spate of recent near misses has prompted me to write a letter. Just today, I was out with my children for an afternoon walk when not one, but two people nearly hit us after running stop signs. One of them, too busy talking on her cell phone, never even saw us. The other looked right at us and proceeded through the intersection. I would ask that people take more care, especially when young children are present. What will it take for people to obey the law-someone getting hurt or worse? I hope not.

Rebecca Stindt
Forest Park

Following the money

Did you know you can use the Internet to look up who has contributed to various political campaigns?

For federal races go to www.fec.gov, the Federal Election Commission’s website. Clicking on Campaign Finance Reports and Data, and then View/Download Electronic Filings, lets you search by candidate or contributor. For races under Illinois jurisdiction, such as for mayor or for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly, filings are available at the Illinois State Board of Elections website www.elections.il.gov.

Forest Park residents in the 3rd Congressional District can see filings for the candidates running in the Democratic primary for Congress. This is a four-way race among incumbent Dan Lipinski, and challengers Mark Pera, Jerry Bennett, and Jim Capparelli. The online filings show that for the period July 1 through Sept. 30, Lipinski raised $75,000, Pera raised $100,000, Bennett raised, $56,000 (of which $25,000 was a loan from Bennett to his own campaign), and Capparelli raised about $13,000. This and other indicators suggest that Pera is the serious challenger to Lipinski.

Although not reported as a campaign expenditure, readers might also recall that Lipinski used $230,000 of taxpayer money during 2005-2006 in the form of “franking” fees to mail out “progress reports” describing the work he does for the district. This was the highest for any U.S. congressional district in Illinois according to a June 10 article in the Sun Times. One wonders what amount of taxpayer’s money Lipinski is on track to spend in 2007 to “keep in touch” with his constituents?

Closer examination shows that of the $75,000 raised by Lipinski, $35,000 was from individuals, with the remaining $40,000 coming from political committees. All but 4.5 percent of Pera’s $100,000 came from individuals. Lipinski had 74 contributors (only one having a filing address within the district), or about $1,000 per Lipinski contributor. Pera had around 850 contributors, an average contribution of about $120. It is very unusual for a challenger to outraise an incumbent. The dollar amounts and the lopsided numbers of contributors indicate that Pera is mounting a serious and credible challenge.

Frank Hansen
Forest Park

Laptops welcome

This letter is in response to the Nov. 9 Web Extra, “With laptops, students get international classmates.”

An excellent communication and educational tool.

A vote of thanks to Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Commissioner Rory Hoskins, and our very own Superintendent Lou Cavallo. In District 91’s quest to bring the 48 percent of Afro-American students up to “speed” and to be on the cutting edge of education for all students, this is a step in the right direction.

Ernie Hines
Forest Park