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Former District 113 Adversaries Still Wary

Steindler, Shapiro spar over demographics and vision.

As capital improvement ideas for and take a step forward, the divisiveness in the community over the a year ago has ebbed but not gone away.

Members of the Township High School District 113 leadership team presented their ideas at a May 21 District 113 School Board meeting. At the same time, a representative from Education First presented that group’s specific plan for the two schools.

was the primary group opposing the 2011 referendum and continues to advocate its positions about the schools’ needs. The community group supporting the referendum was . Though its members remain involved in the process the organization is not currently active.

Now that the study group recommendations have been presented by community members, professionals will develop specific plans for the two schools that can be considered by the Board, the administration and ultimately the community, according to District 113 Communications Director Natalie Kaplan. 

The District plans on creating a steering committee, made up of community members, to assist the professionals during the process, according to Kaplan. 

Before the May 21 meeting, the District retained the services of Perkins & Will, an architecture firm, to begin to develop plans for Deerfield and Highland Park.

Harry Steindler of Deerfield, who was one of the leaders of CARE, believes the process has been open and transparent. “This has been a good, thorough and inclusive process,” he said. “I have seen bending from people who were on opposite sides.”

Steindler Fears Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Despite Steindler’s happiness with the process and progress to date, he fears Education First’s reliance on current demographic studies and vocational training will diminish the District’s two high schools.

“It will become a self fulfilling prophecy,” Steindler said of Education First’s ideas. “Education is much more than academics. If we do not provide facilities like our neighbors it will downgrade our community.”

Sam Shapiro, a member of Education First who presented the organization’s plan at the May 21 School Board meeting, dismisses Steindler’s fears. He has faith Highland Park and Deerfield will continue to provide high quality education.

“The Education First plan envisions top shelf facilities for the students,” Shapiro said. “It will provide facilities for the students to perform at the highest levels possible.” He believes the impetus for high quality education comes from teachers, students and engaged parents.

Plan Must Be Long Term

The weight Education First gives to an enrollment study commissioned by the District showing declining student bodies for both Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools by 2020 also worries Steindler. He wants a capital improvement plan to last from 25 to 50 years.

“By time the work is (realistically) done 2020 is only four years away,” Steindler said. “We have to have a viable plan for the next 25 to 50 years. Four years into the future doesn’t mean a whole lot.” He also expects a stagnant real estate market to open soon bringing younger families to Highland Park and Deerfield.

The major difference between Steindler and Shapiro on demographics is whether potential declining enrollment is permanent or temporary. Shapiro thinks the aging population of Baby Boomers will foster a long term enrollment decline.

When it comes to the ideas for the schools, Steindler remains happy with the progress and Shapiro is willing to consider modifications to the Education First proposals. “There’s always room for improvement,” he said.

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Sam Shapiro's Mutt June 02, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I understand that the Patch may have limited resources. And I understand that many in the community don't want to be informed a year before they are potentially asked to vote on something. But that's just what the boss and his friends count on. The are betting that people will look at their argument and say it sounds logical. Why should we spend money when these people say it isn't necessary. And what does it say about a group that participates in something, quits at the last moment and then criticizes the results that they didn't dispute before the conclusion? What it says to me is that the boss and his friends don't have any interest in change.
Bringin' Down Briarwood June 03, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Harry, you're preaching to the choir. I don't disagree that this process has been generously representative and wiiiiiiiiiide open for those who want it. I'd even argue that you guys have been too generous, but that's another topic for another time. My point is the unfortunate battle you guys face (and Steve to a lesser extent) - the lack of appetite the community has for this information. As for the point about everybody being busy, I think you're being generous. This is the buzzphrase for a general lack of (fill in the blank) in much of our world. It's the excuse-du-jour everywhere. In the meantime, while most people can't name the two candidates for the House of Representatives or that 113-issue even exists, they can answer any number of questions about the Kardashians or American Idol. But I digress. The Patch and its competitor are very easy methods keep up with even the most superficial level of this topic. And in my short time in this community, I'm surprised how little people care to be aware of the current activities, much less how it affects their world. I'd say it's quite a bit more aloof (for lack of a better term) than other areas I've lived, and it's unfortunate. OK, time to put away that soap box. Back to my other one.
Average Joe June 03, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Sounds a little like a lack of faith in the human spiriit. Call me foolish, but I still in believe in this country and this community to step up and do the right thing when it counts. I worked the Census a couple of years ago and going door-to-door showed me that the community is not as apathetic as some may believe.
Jacob Nelson June 03, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Hi, SSM. I appreciate your comments, but if you'd like to continue commenting on Patch you need to change your username. It doesn't need to be your actual name, though that's preferred, but it can't be something that uses another person's name, as yours currently does. Thanks for understanding.
Ernest June 04, 2012 at 01:18 PM
While most people do not have the conviction for purpose to get actively involved in these issues, it would also be nice not to have "created" news where past comments are regurgitated for the sake of a new article. At the end of the day, talking in circles just to be heard is also not going to sway anyone (or at least it shouldn't). And just because someone, or one side, is talking the loudest and most often does NOT make them right!

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