Taft HS acquiring van for sporting events; enrollment expected to top 4,200
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School is acquiring a 12-seat van that will be used to transport students to some athletic events and other activities, saving the school an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 a year in busing costs.
“I love spending money on assets that will save the school money,” principal Mark Grishaber said at the April 13 virtual meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council.
The expected first-year savings will cover nearly the entire cost of the $64,000 van, Grishaber said. Taft spends about $500 on each school bus it rents for a game, he said.
It is not unusual for games to have a late start because teams are waiting for a bus that is not available until 4:30 p.m., when buses typically finish their elementary school routes, Grishaber said. The van will allow for earlier starts, which means students can get home earlier after the game and start their homework, he said.
The school system started allowing schools to have their own vans a couple of years ago as part of a pilot program, Girshaber said. Taft will continue to use school buses for those teams which have too many players for the van or when the van is not available, he said.
It also was reported that Taft’s projected enrollment for next fall is 4,225 students, an increase of 275 students from this school year.
Taft will be receiving about $1.6 million in additional funds due to the enrollment increase, and those funds should be available prior to the start of the school year, allowing for Taft to hire extra teachers over the summer, Grishaber said.In prior years, funds would not be released until the 20th day of school, as the school system waited to make sure enrollment projections were met.
Also at the meeting, Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) pledged to allocate $25,000 of his ward’s discretionary funds for the completion of a walkway that is intended to connect the parking lot for the Chicago Park District’s Dunning sports field at 4139 N. Oak Park Ave. and the Taft Freshman Academy, 4071 N. Oak Park Ave. Some Taft teachers park in the lot, and parents also use it to drop off and pick up their child.
Sposato said that funds in addition to his allocation likely will be needed for the project.
The walkway, which was recently installed, runs between the sports field and freshman campus but needs to be extended to the parking lot, Sposato said. “We have that nice path that ends at a mud pit,” he said.
Grishaber also reported that the school’s website, www.tafthighschool.org, is being redesigned to include more videos and pictures. He said that school websites play a key role in the decision-making process when students are researching which high school to attend.
LSC chairwoman Kathy Fern said that the next council meeting will be held in-person but that it also will be available virtually. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 11.
The council is looking to fill two parent vacancies.