IPSD 204 board discusses extracurricular equality across schools

Justin Karubas at the IPSD 204 Board of Education meeting.
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A discussion about an extracurricular grant program at Monday’s Indian Prairie School District 204’s Board of Education meeting led to a broader conversation about whether equal extracurricular opportunities are being offered throughout the district.

Why is the IPSD 204 board discussing extracurricular equality?

The topic arose from an agenda item on the independent contractor agreement for the African American Men of Unity (AAMOU), a program offering college and career readiness activities and mentorship to students. 

AAMOU is a grant program offered at five IPSD 204 schools. Board member Justin Karubas removed the item from the consent agenda to further discuss program accessibility.

He approved AAMOU but wants to ensure the board is following its policies by providing all district schools with similar services and equal extracurricular opportunities for all students.

“I’m looking for consensus from the board that we direct administration to do a catalog so that we can know what is happening at each of the schools so that we can know that we are following our policy so that we can know that there are equal educational opportunities and substantially comparable services at each of the schools,” said Karubas.

IPSD 204 Superintendent gives thoughts on the catalog inquiry

IPSD 204 Superintendent Dr. Adrian Talley said gathering information about every program from each school would be a long process.

He added that “program” is a vague term and not all are the same. Some use either district money or grants, some are started by students, and others by principals.

“It is not uncommon for a principal to work with their community to establish programs in his or her building that are specific to that school, but you would not necessarily find them at other schools,” said Dr. Talley.

Even if a program is only offered at some schools, Dr. Talley said the district might not be able to change that. Programs like AAMOU are offered by an outside organization, which the district can’t force to expand. 

“Some schools might need a mentoring program where other schools might not. It really depends upon what are the needs within that building versus saying that we need to have this program across all schools,” said Dr. Talley.

What do the board members think?

Karubas agreed that schools have different needs and opportunities but he wants to seek improvement in accessibility. 

Many board members shared Karubas’ thoughts but also understood the limitations of implementing programs.

“I think from a board perspective, it would just be interesting to see the variance in the opportunities our students get to experience district-wide beyond the school day,” said school board secretary Supna Jain. “But after we get that information, I think Dr. Talley brings a good point. What are we going to do with that?” 

Dr. Talley said for the administration to start gathering information from each school, the board of education needs to define what they are looking for.

What is the board going to do?

The board concluded that each member will define “extracurricular activity” to understand what they want information about from each school. They will then find a consensus on a definition to provide to the administration.

“We as a board need to make sure we are providing equal extracurricular opportunities across the district, that’s our requirement,” said Karubas. “So any definition that limits extracurricular activity is going to not satisfy me that we’re meeting the policy.”

The board will discuss the next steps at the Feb. 5. Board of Education Meeting. 

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