I would like to thank the Voluntary Schools Task Force for their hard work in preparing this report for us. Onnie, Hank, and the many, many others on their committee did a great job on the report and worked extremely hard. The community owes them a debt of gratitude for their efforts in exploring what I believe is an intriguing and exciting concept for New Trier township. I look forward to considering voluntary schools as an option at the appropriate time.
The voluntary schools report really contains two different recommendations. One is that voluntary schools be put on the table as a long term enrollment option. I will enthusiastically vote to put the voluntary schools option on the table as an option. The other recommendation is that the Board make the long enrollment decision this Fall. I can not support that recommendation.
The appropriate time to decide on voluntary schools will be after the freshman campus has been up and running for several years and after students, faculty, parents, and the larger community have had a chance to see how it is working. Then, if voluntary schools seems like it would be an even better option, we can choose voluntary schools.
As a member of the One/Three Task Force, I have the privilege of watching the new freshman school begin to take shape. Co-chaired by Adair Waldenberg, the committee has already made recommendations about schedules, advisories, and administrative structure and is working on curriculum, athletics, co-curricular, and other areas. I believe that the freshman campus will be a VERY exciting place. And I am very impressed with the concern and attention to detail brought to the table by parents, students, teachers and administrators serving on the committee. We eagerly await the appointment of the new principal and assistant principal next month.
Under the leadership of the administration, including the new principal and assistant principal, the freshman campus will become more real to all of us and, I believe, exciting to all. The freshman campus will be a smaller environment specially tailored for 14 year olds. It will offer more activities and more attention for our youngest students and ease the transition into high school.
Perhaps in several years after we obtain updated population data; after the freshman campus is up and running and can be evaluated; after we know more about the reaction of the voters to upcoming referenda in other districts; after the additional costs that would be incurred in moving from a freshman campus to voluntary schools become more certain; and after the entire community can evaluate whether the advantages of voluntary schools compared to the existing freshman and upper class campuses outweigh the disadvantages; it may sense to adopt the voluntary school model. If so, I will be a proponent of that adopting the voluntary school model.
But as to the current proposal, I join you in wanting to put the voluntary school model on the table. I can not join you in wanting the decision to be made now or soon.