Although it's going to be tricky, officials in Medinah Elementary District 11 are working ahead to keep schools open as much as possible in September 2012 during the 39th Ryder Cup golf tournament at nearby Medinah Country Club.
The two-lane Medinah Road will be completely closed during the tournament that runs Sept. 25-30 next year, posing a major challenge for Medinah Intermediate School that is located along that road.
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Superintendent Joseph Bailey said officials already are working with the bus company to reroute pickups and drop-offs for the week. He also said the district likely will use one or two of its teacher institute days, but closing for the week is a bad option.
"The challenge for us is we don't really want to (close) because it's going to mean we would have to add days at the end of the school year," Bailey said. "Plus, the board of education wants kids to learn, and shutting down three weeks after you start school doesn't make a lot of sense."
Nearby Lake Park High School will close for the entire week because its east campus is right across from the country club. In April, officials also agreed to allow the PGA of America to use Lake Park's Roselle campuses during the tournament that is expected to attract 45,000 people a day.
But Lake Park's closure won't require students to attend extra school days at the end of the year, because they still will meet the required 176 days of classroom instruction.
PGA of America also provided Lake Park with $160,000 to help offset costs to close the school. The high school will receive 20 tickets to the Ryder Cup, which the district will sell to generate more revenue.
In exchange, the PGA is slated to donate up to $240,000 to help secure volunteers for staffing at the tournament, including help with concessions and parking. Its agreement with Lake Park will use parent and student groups to provide 475 volunteers daily and, in turn, make financial donations to the groups.
Bailey said following Lake Park's example isn't an option. And that's not only because District 11 isn't getting money from the PGA.
Because students in District 11 are younger than Lake Park students, an extra week off school would leave many parents scrambling to find extra day care or force them to adjust their own work schedules.
"I don't want to put parents in that position," Bailey said. "It's not ideal to have the tournament right in the middle of the school year. But that whole thing is much bigger than our school district."