TAFT HS looks to upgrade its facilities
by BRIAN NADIG
The Taft High School Local School Council at its Feb. 10 meeting approved an expenditure of $18,783 for new weight room equipment as part of the school’s plan to bring its sports and other facilities up to par with suburban schools.
The council also allocated about $7,500 for the purchase of two indoor batting cages for the baseball and softball teams and for gym classes.
Taft principal Mark Grishaber said that he no longer wants to be told that Taft’s facilities are better than the typical public school in Chicago. “Stop comparing us to the other CPS schools,” he said. “Compare us to the suburban schools.”
Grishaber said that some of the weight equipment at Taft dates to the 1970s and is no longer being used. He said that Taft’s athletes will be more successful if they have access to the proper equipment.
The school also is planning to seek bids on a project for about $40,000 worth of improvements to the boys’ locker room. “This needs to be a priority,” Grishaber said. “Our kids don’t take showers down there. Why? The showers don’t work.”
It also was reported that Taft is seeking to replace the seats in the auditorium and that the Taft High School Foundation plans to have the floor of the main gymnasium refurbished, in a project that is estimated to cost about $15,000. The concession stand in the gymnasium lobby recently was renovated, and last year the school had new windows and science labs installed as part of a $13 million capital improvement project.
Grishaber said that the improvements not only benefit current students but also help attract prospective students. He said that the first visit to Taft for many residents is for a sports event.
Also at the meeting, it was reported that the school identified about 220 additional sophomores who should be taking advanced placement classes based on their score on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, which measures college readiness. Advanced placement classes allow high school students to earn class credits for college.
In the past Taft had only the top 50 sophomores take the PSAT, but the LSC allocated $30,000 so that all sophomores could take the test this school year. Grishaber said that the PSAT results give Taft data that can be used to improve its curriculum and to better assess student performance.
The school also plans to offer more advanced placement classes to freshmen and sophomores to encourage more graduates of its Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center to remain at Taft for high school. A year ago about a third of the graduates of the academic center did not have Taft among their top three choices for high school, but that figure now is about 16 percent, Grishaber said.
Many graduates of the center, which is a gifted program, enter Taft’s international baccalaureate diploma program, but those classes do not start until junior year. Grishaber said that the advanced placement classes will allow them to take a more challenging class load as freshmen and sophomores.
It also was reported that longtime Taft High School Alumni Association president Kay Kuciak recently died and that Anne Lunde is the group’s new president.