As school board members prepare to decide the fate of Forest Park‘s tradition of neighborhood schools, parents yesterday called for greater details on Superintendent Lou Cavallo’s proposal, and asked that more time be given to review alternatives.

In particular, the approximately 25 residents who attended an open forum suggested that classrooms with multiple grade levels would retain the district’s current attendance boundaries and alleviate problems with declining enrollment.

“We think we do need more than 90 days to research other proposals as much as Dr. Cavallo has investigated the present proposal,” JoEllen Barron, a vice president for the Garfield Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, said.

In September the superintendent suggested that
Forest Park abandon the practice of housing grades K-5 at each of the four elementary schools. Instead, one school on the north and south sides of the Eisenhower Expressway would host students up to the third grade, and the remaining two schools would be used to instruct kids in grades four and five.

Cavallo has said the change is necessary to help standardize the curriculum and manage resources amid expectations that enrollment will slip. The school board is expected to vote on the proposal in December.

Barron and Charles Hoehne, both of whom have children at Garfield Elementary, advocated for combining grade levels. Students in first- and second-grade, for example, would be taught in the same classroom by the same teacher. The practice is commonly used elsewhere, they said, and would give the district greater flexibility within its neighborhood schools.

“For me, personally, I would rather things stay the way they are, but that doesn’t seem to be an option,” Hoehne said.


For complete coverage, see the Nov. 5
Forest Park Review in print and online at