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Old 12-09-2014, 04:42 PM
 
145 posts, read 151,004 times
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Thanks in large part to the detailed posts on this forum, we have narrowed our search to Oak Park and Wilmette. We will be touring the elementary schools in both areas and we've already analyzed the reviews on Great Schools and test scores, etc. (for what they're worth). I was hoping for first hand experience and insight. Our preference would be a school with small class sizes, strong science and math programs, and extra activities (e.g. after school programs) that offer language, sports, architecture or engineering. I know that's probably asking for the moon, but if we can come close, that would be good enough. Does anyone have a particular school in either Oak Park or Wilmette that they particularly love?

Thank you!
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Old 12-09-2014, 04:51 PM
 
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Default Not realistic...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmtSF View Post
Thanks in large part to the detailed posts on this forum, we have narrowed our search to Oak Park and Wilmette. We will be touring the elementary schools in both areas and we've already analyzed the reviews on Great Schools and test scores, etc. (for what they're worth). I was hoping for first hand experience and insight. Our preference would be a school with small class sizes, strong science and math programs, and extra activities (e.g. after school programs) that offer language, sports, architecture or engineering. I know that's probably asking for the moon, but if we can come close, that would be good enough. Does anyone have a particular school in either Oak Park or Wilmette that they particularly love?

Thank you!
You may not have heard, but Illinois is literally the WORST STATE IN THE ENTIRE NATION when it comes to NOT putting in the required funds to ensure government workers receive the pensions they've been promised. That relevance to the current question is simple -- THERE IS NO MONEY FOR THESE FANTASIES!

Increasingly, larger and larger amounts of local property taxes are going to shore-up the broken pension systems of teachers and other government workers. Oak Park is particularly hard hit as they have the burden of less well prepared students whose families may be coming into the district from adjacent Chicago with housing vouchers in search of safer / less dysfunctional schools...

Even places a lot more affluent than Oak Park or Wilmette simply have no such offerings. You would be lucky to find a rare public ELEMENTARY school that even offers foreign language instruction of any quality / consistency.

Heck, I don't know of even any COSTLY PRIVATE SCHOOLS in the region that offers any kind of real athletics programs let alone "architecture or engineering".
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Old 12-09-2014, 05:06 PM
 
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Chet--that's so disappointing. We are coming from a public school with 18 kids per classroom and it actually offers all of those program in, of all places, Florida. Go figure. We thought Illinois and the Chicago area in particular, would be ahead of the Florida curve.
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Old 12-09-2014, 06:52 PM
 
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Sorry, these things just do not exist in Illinois.

Even ultra-costly Kenilworth D38 or Oak Brook D53 just do not have atheltics in the elementary grades. Specialized engineering or architecture offerings are not found even in Chicago's extensive magnet program. If you stick to Kenilowrth or Oak Brook at least they do have rather good foriegn language and generally small class sizes, but 18 kids is way way small.

I am curious, is this a charter school or magnet program? In my experienc even in the priciest parts of Florida it is common for affluent parents to budget for private schools to escape the notoriously stingy / retiree driven low cost public school...
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Old 12-09-2014, 07:00 PM
 
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Chet--nope. Just regular public school, though it is in an affluent county and there's a lot of focus on the schools as it's the major selling point to get people to move to here--St Johns County. The sports/engineering/architecture are after school programs and cost extra, but not much more than membership at a really cruddy gym. And since we don't pay income tax in Florida, we have the little extra.

Did I just talk myself out of moving to Chicago?
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Old 12-09-2014, 07:09 PM
 
28,393 posts, read 68,104,404 times
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Default Without knowing your overall situation...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmtSF View Post
Chet--nope. Just regular public school, though it is in an affluent county and there's a lot of focus on the schools as it's the major selling point to get people to move to here--St Johns County. The sports/engineering/architecture are after school programs and cost extra, but not much more than membership at a really cruddy gym. And since we don't pay income tax in Florida, we have the little extra.

Did I just talk myself out of moving to Chicago?
I can't answer the question of whether you should move or stay in Florida.

I can state that the tax structure of Illinois is quite disadvantageous for pretty much anyone not blessed with the promise of a guaranteed government pension -- I know many many very affluent people that increasingly find the high taxes of Illinois to be a huge negative. Even "very affluent" towns are seeing large numbers of folks "put the house up for sale as soon as the last kid is out of public school".

The overall mix of pleasant weather, low housing costs / affordable taxes is a huge draw to entice people into Florida. I personally do not like the humidity nor bugs. I have friends that have moved into newer homes of concrete block and such and they seem pretty happy but it is not my personal taste...
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Old 12-09-2014, 07:35 PM
 
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Many programs exist but they might not be offered by the school district. Believe me I live in Wheaton and kids can find and be enrolled in just about anything they desire. Sports programs are the domain of the park districts provided you have a good one. They also offer other activities as well. There are many foreign language programs for children and some of them are run by various ethnic groups and usually offer Saturday classes. Again not one stop shopping.

I suggest you look at the websites....there might be more out there than you think.

Oak Park Home Page

http://www.wilmette39.org/
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Old 12-10-2014, 12:05 AM
 
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I'll echo that - there are gobs of resources and activities for kids... just not offered by the school, so they come with a price & some effort. For instance, being in Wilmette / Kenilworth offers the possibility of enrichment courses at Northwestern's Center for Talent Development. My kids are in D38 with small class sizes and foreign language, but beyond that the school per se doesn't offer much.
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:04 AM
 
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I'm not sure why Chet decided to spew negativity all over this thread, but he is simply being ridiculously pessimistic in this case. I'm sure there are some suburban elementary districts facing serious budgetary issues in 2014, but Oak Park and Wilmette are not among them. Most well off suburban school districts are not facing significant budgetary stress at this point in time.

I don't have direct experience with Oak Park or Wilmette schools. But in my distrct (D41 in Glen Ellyn), some kids (including mine) have Spanish immersion starting in first grade. And we are not a school dominated by Spanish-speaking minorities, but a somewhat well off suburban district. There is also optional Spanish and French in grades 6-8. Additionally, there has been a new emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programming in the district, and we are currently in the process of outfitting each school with STEAM labs that will be used in multi-age classes with specialized teachers. And our music and arts programs are healthy and well-funded, including orchestra and band starting at the elementary level. Class sizes are kept small--generally 20-22 at K-1st Grade, and sometimes up to 25 as they get closer to middle school.

As far as after school programs in architecture are concerned, the most prominent one is for high school students, and is called "ACE Mentoring". A close friend of mine is deeply involved with this in the Chicago area. Here is their web site: ACE Mentor Program :: About Us

Does our school have everything it wants? No. Our biggest shortcomings are that we would like more classroom space and the ability to bring special education back in to our schools (currently special ed kids are bused one town over). Full-day Kindergarten is also being considered. But due to property taxes, the schools are not under any huge budgetary pressure at this time. Chet may be worried about the future due to the pension problems, but the reality on the ground today is not that stark.

I will echo what the others said about sports at the elementary level being handled by the Park Districts. Both Oak Park and Wilmette have very comprehensive Park District offerings with nice facilities. I would look at their web sites for more info.

Last edited by Lookout Kid; 12-10-2014 at 09:35 AM..
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:06 AM
 
11,972 posts, read 26,896,046 times
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In the case of Wilmette and Oak Park elementary schools, please call the schools and research their websites before listening to Chet. They will be able to tell you about the various opportunities at each school.
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