Rich Township District 227 parents are taking their kids out of the district (Olympia Fields, IL) — Rich Township High School District 227 parents, teachers and residents are concerned about the state of their schools and the school board’s willingness to address their concerns.
Sherrie Towery, president of the Rich Township High School Education Association union and a chemistry teacher, voiced some of these concerns at a meeting last month, noting there have been overcrowded schools, an excessive number of fights within classrooms, and kids have been following unstructured schedules, giving students too much time to roam the halls.
“This is unsettling for staff,” she said during a meeting last month. “This is a contributing factor for the erosion of the climate in the buildings. How do you work when you’re on high alert?”
Parents have decided to take their kids out of the district due to those issues. That’s a decision Randall White, School District 163 board member, had to make for his daughter, who now attends a high school in Chicago Heights.
Commissioner Randall White Addresses Issues
Some of his and other parents’ concerns stem from the district deciding to consolidate its schools in 2019, he said. That year, the district, which serves the residents of Country Club Hills, Matteson, Olympia Fields, Park Forest, and Richton Park, decided to close Rich East High School. The remaining schools are Rich Central and Rich South.
White argues that by closing the school, the district was ridding itself of “the last thing we had to hold onto,” that added to Park Forest’s property value. That’s especially since there’s no other major industry that adds to the village’s tax base, he said.
“Cook County is the highest taxing body in Illinois, Illinois is the highest taxing body in the nation and Park Forest is the highest taxing body in Cook County,” he said. “So ultimately, Park Forest pays the highest taxes in the nation and the last thing we had to hold onto was Rich East.”
How the Rich East Was Closed
White said, as a result of closing the school, the district received $105 million in bond money. That was enough for the school to rectify issues they argued warranted the closure, he said. He isn’t completely against the fact that they thought closing the school was the best thing to do for the district but what frustrates him most is the way they did it, he said.
“It was so many lies and so many misconceptions that it showed it had more to do with political ties,” he said. “I’m just really concerned that it’s going to raise taxes, we’re going to lose homeowners because I moved where I moved because the high school was right around the corner. Even the education process is subpar.”
He also said mixing the rival schools has led to more violence among students. “We have gang activity and gang violence among our youth and we told them that mixing those three schools that are historical rivals will lead to this,” he said. “They disregarded that and did it anyway.”
“I know personally, about five parents that have transferred their children out of 227,” he added. “It’s just a nightmare in the immediate area and it just has to be changed.”
Rich Township District 227 parents are taking their kids out of the district