By Devin Rose
A suggestion by a member of the District 200 school board last month to house District 97's administrative offices at Oak Park and River Forest High School does not appear feasible because OPRF does not have adequate space, according to D200 board President Terry Finnegan.
Sharon Patchak-Layman, who is in her second term on the OPRF school board, brought up the idea at a Sept. 27 board meeting. She said sharing building resources would cut costs and improve communication because the two districts would be under one roof.
D97 board President Peter Barber said they are concentrating on a plan to build a shared facility with the Park District of Oak Park on part of the current parking lot at Oak Park Village Hall. He said no formal plans have been proposed to him by D200, and anything they might consider would have to include the park district.
"We would never want to leave them behind," Barber said about the park district. "No one from [District] 200 has come to us with a plan" for sharing space at the high school. But Barber added they would be happy to hear any suggestions from that board.
Finnegan said he brought up the matter to Barber a couple of weeks ago, but realized it couldn't be done when he found out the amount of space it would require.
The school is a landlocked site with very little room for additions, Finnegan said. With the student population expected to grow from about 3,200 now to 3,500 or 3,600 in the next 5-8 years, "we've got to wonder if we have enough space for just our kids."
The total number of employees would be about 40 from D97 and about 15 from the park district, Finnegan said, but "either number is more than what we could imagine having room for."
The proposed shared facility at village hall would be a two-story building paid for with money set aside by both districts for maintenance at their current facilities. It could also be funded by scheduled reimbursement payments from the Madison Street TIF, and is expected to cost between $6 million and $10 million.
Jan Arnold, executive director of the park district, said she hadn't heard anything about the new suggestion, but the second community meeting for the shared-facility proposal will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at Beye School.