The bond will fund infrastructure needs and updates to existing school buildings.
The Orthodox Jewish community came out in a big way this month, supporting a bond to facilitate necessary repairs to Oak Park school district buildings.
Oak Park school district voters overall approved a $54.4 million, 30-year bond issue, with 79.6% voting yes.
The funding will allow the district to fix various infrastructure needs and updates to existing school buildings — plumbing and electrical upgrades, replacing damaged windows, doors, ceilings, floors and roofing, and more.
Solomon Radner, an Orthodox Oak Park city council member, explained the support of the bond aligns with the community’s highest priorities.
“The reason we supported it as a community is simply that education is — if it’s not the single most important thing we should jointly and universally care about, I’m not sure what is,” Radner said.
“There are children who are our neighbors, and they need to be able to learn in a safe environment and one that’s conducive to learning,” Radner added. “We’re talking about broken windows, wires that are hanging, HVAC where it’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. These are very important things that children need to be able to learn. If they don’t have these very basic needs in their schools, they’re at a disadvantage, and it’s just unfair to them.”
Radner helped draft a letter in support of the bond and got 20 other community members to sign on in support.
“We sent it around and we wanted to get some people to sign it who we thought represented as many people as possible so that when our neighbors and friends would see it, there would be somebody on the list they could call and ask, ‘Hey, why should we care about this,’ and then get as much support as possible,” Radner said.
The bond directly affects only public schools, which, by and large, the Orthodox community in Oak Park does not attend. Radner believes the support, regardless of that fact, represents the values of the Orthodox community in Oak Park and the Jewish people in general.
“I think it says that we recognize as a greater community, what’s good for our neighbors is good for us,” Radner said. “If our neighbors are getting opportunities to succeed, that’s good for the entire community.”