OPRF committee rethinks physical campus space

A new pool, main entrance area among 'concepts' under consideration


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

A new pool, administrative offices on the first floor, and a redesigned welcome center are among the general concepts being discussed by a facility planning committee considering changes to the Oak Park and River Forest High School campus.

These and other potential renovations have been discussed by the committee and the school's architect, Legat. The school for some time has been looking into long-range facility planning.

Along with continued improvements made to the 107-year-old building, school officials say increasing enrollment over the next decade necessitates physical changes to the campus. Enrollment will hit 4,000 a decade from now, according to the school's estimates.

Two "conceptual blueprints" were offered by Legat to the committee, which includes community members, school staff and school board representatives. No timetables, budget or construction dates have been discussed, as these are only preliminary, conceptual ideas at this point. But any major renovations planned to the building would be the most extensive work for OPRF since the late 1960s.

Both conceptual floor plans involve building out onto Scoville Avenue, in effect doing away with some of that existing outdoor green space, in order to add interior space.

The school's main entrance would relocate further south, roughly where the entrance to the field house is currently located. The new entrance would lead to a new "welcome area" to the right.

The large sprawling area near the main auditorium that current serves as the welcome area would become a study common for students.

A single, large pool area would replace the current west and east pools, both as old as the main building and very outdated. One idea is to build that pool in the southeast corner of the field house (the east pool and weight room is currently there). The other idea involves taking a portion of the field house gym and building it there. Either lockers or a gym would replace the west pool, located in the southwest part of the field house.

Other ideas involve giving building and district leadership, as well as faculty and department chairs, their own clustered offices in the building. Currently, district and building administrators and staff are on the second floor. The revised floor plan puts building administrators on the first floor and district administrators on the second. In both cases, their offices would be located closer together. Faculty offices would also be clustered.

Opening additional classroom space would be the net result of relocating administrative and faculty offices. Other campus changes are intended to be aesthetic as well as educational. A "learning garden," for instance, plus additional classrooms would be located on the forth floor.

The school's planning committee is currently studying the blueprints to provide feedback to Legat.


OPRF Renovations - Concept A by wednesdayjournal


OPRF Renovations - Concept B by wednesdayjournal

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Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 7:32 PM

For parents who are more appreciative of the frills in the schools, I'm sure your kids will be the best dressed there. Congratulations!

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 7:28 PM

I don't believe that the school has really gone down at all. But the school's demographics have changed and it is effecting test scores. Have you seen the curriculum lately for the elem. schools? Some of these things we learned in high school and college are being taught in the elem. level. If your parents weren't both college grads., no home computer, no one to assist or at least check homework, no one to encourage achievement in school, no money to even consider college. What do you expect?

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 6:12 PM

Not trying to start a school testing debate, but I'm firmly against...strongly considering opting out of all standardized testing when my kids reach school age. It measures nothing. That said, I want them in OP schools for all the bells and whistles, not test scores. We're here for the facilities, well-paid teachers, activities, quality of education. Just sayin.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 5:41 PM

How do a full 30% of the school's students fail to meet standards on the Prairie State Achievement Exam? I'm only suggesting accountability for the money that's already being spent. As I've said many times before, if the school generates great results, most people will not complain about the money. Only 7 out of 10 kids meeting state requirements is not great results. Want to be embarrassed? Look at the list of schools that finished first through 48th, above OPRF.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 5:16 PM

Although studies have been done, the expected correlation between higher educational costs per student and greater educational achievement has not been shown. Graduation rates from HS and student test scores do not show much of an increase even though educational costs have doubled throughout much of the country. So spending more will get you a garden in front of the HS but measurable results will be flat. But it sure would look pretty.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 4:00 PM

US News did rank OPRF 22nd in the state and 516th in the country. Sun-Times says 39th in the Chicago area. Tribune says 49th in the Chicago area. Tribune ranking is based solely on the percentage of students who met standards for PSAE. Sun-Times is based on a number of standardized assessments. I invite you to read US News' methodology - it's a little convoluted. I still argue that the ranking is not consistent with the level of taxpayer support. We don't pay the 22nd highest property taxes.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 3:42 PM

Didn't US News & World Report last year rank us 22nd in the state of IL? (And the 516th best HS nationally?) Sure, Hinsdale, Evanston, New Trier, Riverside Brookfield are ahead of us...but I doubt the way to improve is to complain about the teachers having a preschool in the building. ;-) If you wanna be "swanky" we gotta get swanky. lol Seriously though, the public HS I went to in another state was excellent and isn't even ranked. It's all relative.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 3:22 PM

Regardless of whether the teachers are paying a competitive rate, the fact that a tax-supported entity built them a preschool in their workplace is a benefit. The faculty and staff of the high school enjoy more-than-generous compensation and benefits. I'm only suggesting that their performance as a group is not consistent with their compensation. OPRFHS is a pretty low-ranked school, given how much we are taxed to support it and how well compensated the faculty is.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 10th, 2013 1:48 PM

I checked on line for average daycare costs and I think I found the same web site you did, P-P. Lists Illinois as 8th highest at a little over $1000/mo but assumes a 10 hr/day. It also list medium income for single parent at $24833. and two parent household at $84779. I do think my sister was fibbing to me all those years ago.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 10th, 2013 1:06 PM

My sister said she paid $5000/mo for 2 kids in all day day care when she lived in LA, Calif. over 20 yrs ago, with about 20 kids in their class. If the cost of day care today in IL is $1000/mo, assuming full 8 hr. days, comes out to $6.20/hr. If you ask me that's pretty cheap, considering the smaller class sizes. Am I figuring wrong?

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 10th, 2013 8:10 AM

Speedway, IL is the 8th least affordable state for childcare with a monthly avg of $983.33 (2010 data statewide). It's a monthly avg of $1008.33 in urban areas in the state.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 11:12 PM

cont. fees. But $1000/mo seems rather low. How about it, what are the rest of you paying for pre-school fees per child per month?

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 11:10 PM

I don't think the there is a problem with having a pre-school at the high school. If it is subsidized by the village as in free rent, or reduced fees for teachers and staff at the high school, then indeed it is an additional benefit to these workers. One that does not appear to be shared by other village employees. If taxpayers are funding any alleged subsidy than should all taxpayers have this benefit or possibly fees should be pro-rated based on income. I am not familiar with pre-school

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 10:59 PM

Police do not get any spike. Pension is based on contracted salary. No increases to pension for unused vacation or sick time. No free or subsidized health care at retiremt. Pensions 50% of salary after 20 years and age 50. Max out after 30 years at 75%. Fire Dept. is similar but has some differences. I don't know of anyone working in OP getting salary or benefits of our teachers.


Posted: March 9th, 2013 8:03 PM

I shouldn't pick on d97 and d200, Maybe all of our employees got 40% retirement raises? Police, Fire, admin, any one want to chime in?


Posted: March 9th, 2013 7:31 PM

pension spikes were 40% over 2 years. I was naive. Believing we were all in it together, and I was talking to fellow villagers. Maybe so, but who posted that it was BY LAW they were forced to take the 40% bump? Yea, so maybe it isn't smart to re-elect the ex-d97 union chief for the school board

Village Voice  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 9:06 AM

@HuskyPupMom: I lost a lot of respect for teachers when I learned about the 25% annual pension bloating preretirement salary "bumps" your colleagues at OPRF wrote into their contract for years. If you wonder why teachers are as popular as politicians these days, blame your union and your predecessors who perpetrated this institutionalized fraud. I'm so glad the state finally took action to curb this abuse of the pension system.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 3:20 PM

To OP Transplant & King Louie...Oak Park IS a little uptight afterall, right? We're not exactly known for our relaxed attitudes. BTW, I never said people shouldn't complain. What I'm saying is don't be surprised when it goes nowhere. Most of us live here, in part, because of the way things are run. Don't go expecting things to change is all I'm saying. lol

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 3:12 PM

I suspect, Preschool Parent, that most OP and RF residents have fewer drinks and relax less than you do, to borrow your words. Most of us would be in very serious trouble if our workplaces fell to 39th best in the Chicago area.

King Louie  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 3:09 PM

@Preschool Parent. You do realize that you sound A LOT like my wife and how she dealt with "the people" when they "whined." Does your Aristocratic/Royalty approach mimic your culinary one and that, well, us complaining peasants should simply eat cake if we are dissatisfied with our bread portions and quality?

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 3:09 PM

It was a general point, OP Transplant...I didn't mean you particularly. Though I find test scores to be a poor indicator of how a school is doing...test scores aren't why I'm sending my kids to OP schools. That said, you get an awful lot for your taxes paid...which is the real point. You have programs, an in-school preschool (right?), activities, great facilities, a generally supportive public, good teachers who are well-paid. I'd say few schools in the state can top OPRFHS for overall quality.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 2:59 PM

Preschool Parent-You've got it wrong. I'm not complaining about the taxes, I'm complaining about the lackluster high school. I will more cheerfully pay my 14 grand a year, if I can send my kids to a first-rate high school. Please read the posts below more carefully. If the district dazzles the taxpayers with high performance, most will not complain about what it costs.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 2:42 PM

The reason I'm condescending, Get Along, is that the world doesn't revolve around your (I mean the whiners in general) complaining. It gets old, boring, and most people have the good sense to either ignore or mock the constant bitterness about this or that. Have a drink and relax! Don't go through life being such a negative downer. I'd rather watch paint dry than listen to more OPers complain about taxes. You have the free will to live here or not. Most of us like it here.


Posted: March 8th, 2013 2:35 PM

Now is the time to be ratcheting back the comp and benefits of people in our schools. First, it's what's happening everywhere else. Second, tenure is a powerful tool. Third, if people do leave, good riddance. They are the dead weight. This isn't Google, and the school has not need to provide this to attact employees. There are plenty of hungry capable teachers in the labor market. Pay your own childcare and parking.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 2:23 PM

It's numbers, Pupmom, not negative attitude. You teach at the 39th best high school in the Chicago area, according to the Sun-Times. Are we paying the 39th highest property taxes in the Chicago area? Are you the 39th highest paid faculty? We are taxed at a high rate, so that you can receive a high level of compensation and benefits. All to have the 39th best high school in the Chicago area? And I used the Sun-Times ranking. The Tribune says you 49th, based solely on PSAE results.

Let's get along  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 2:15 PM

Don't be so critical of the voices questioning how the pre-school at OPRF is funded. I'm speaking especially to Preschool Parent as I find your WJ posts are usually condescending to anyone who has the good sense to question the allocations for our community's (scarce) re$ource$. And BTW, HuskyPupMom, $1000 a month for full-time daycare is a bargain. Yes it's a good to have your children be close to your workplace, but such conveniences are to be balanced with the re$ource needs of students.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 2:08 PM

I suspect people will always find something to complain about in OP. lol I doubt many taxpayers actually care if there is a preschool in the HS. Or, even more, a majority probably thinks it's great. Just because a couple ranters are bitter about it on a WJ msg board doesn't mean that is the sentiment of the community.

HuskyPupmom from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 1:55 PM

@OP Transplant - you sound very bitter that your workplace doesn't offer this benefit. Entitled?! I think EVERY mom should be entitled to this. I am well aware - and very grateful - that I am fortunate to have my daughter near me while I work. As for your teacher bashing, there are MANY dedicated teachers here who strive for excellence, and we don't appreciate all of the negativity that is continually directed towards us.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 1:40 PM

The point you are (deliberately?) missing is that some taxpayer-funded entity built a preschool in a taxpayer-funded building so that you can enjoy a benefit that the rest of us taxpayers cannot enjoy - preschool in your workplace. Your continual reassertion of your entitlement to this benefit while the district's measurable performance falls is not likely to endear you, or the preschool, to the taxpayers. But if you dazzle us with high performance, I doubt anyone will complain. Try that, maybe.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 11:28 AM

Go get 'em, HuskyPupmom! Research before complaining? Ill-informed whining is what Oak Parkers do best! lol

HuskyPupmom from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 11:25 AM

By the way, I live in OP as well, and pay high taxes just like the rest of you...

HuskyPupmom from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 11:20 AM

Wow - some people should really do research before complaining! The daycare/preschool is NOT subsidized for teachers - I pay close to $1000 per month to send my daughter there. Is this more acceptable to the whiners?

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 9:50 AM

To Unfortunately, Alas, the report is not available on the financial planner web site. It may be buried in OPRF site by the date it was completed. If I find the other info you were looking for I'll comment.


Posted: March 8th, 2013 9:34 AM

@Speedway. Thanks. I'd love the opportunity to read the actual report and thus know things such as # of D97 students presently in grades 2 - 8 and how that has changed the past 5-10 yrs. Otherwise, it sounds like the only actual numbers are 100% related to all-day kdg in D97 and how that's increased total numbers for D97. Which makes sense because parents are switching over to the free day-care from the paid day-care. This is again why the history of grades 2-8 is so important.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 8:03 AM

For the record, Speedway, my "grumpy" comments were more directed at WHY and Village Voice...those were the comments I think HuskyPupmom was questioning.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 7:34 AM

There you go again. You seem to be nicer than some but where is this propensity for name calling. I have no problem with daycare in the HS. I just hope that taxpayers are not subsidizing it for teachers and staff at the HS. I admit I probably didn't make myself clear earlier. But please don't tell me if we are because I really don't want to know. Ignorance can be bliss.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 6:32 AM

Speedway, to answer your question...no, I don't ever get tired of other people spending my money. So many people dwell in the negative these days. Sour, unhappy people. Charity is great. But I'm also happy when my tax money does good work. And I think it's great we have childcare at OPRFHS for employees & students. It's the way it should be & the right thing. And a little curmudgeony to grumble about...but to each their own.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 10:18 PM

To Unfortunately - In response to your request, google this article, "Enrollment spike Looms at Oak Park River Forest High School" From pioneer press Dec 27, 2011. The High school's source came from an enrollment report by Steve Larson of Ehlers & Associates Dec, 2011. This is not fact, but presumption. Interesting reading.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 10:01 PM

To Preschool - Appreciate your comment. But, don't you ever get tired of people deciding for you how your money gets spent. I feel that I give a fair amount of income to charities, funds and foundations. The difference is I am allowed to chose the fund, the time I give, and the amount. Some of the ventures in OP, I believe, fall under this. My taxes should not be funding some of these things. Does it make me angry? You bet! Does it make me want to donate to other OP causes? Not really!


Posted: March 7th, 2013 9:22 PM

I'll once again ask if any one knows where I can access the information that "school officials" are using to predict a 25% enrollment increase to 4,000 students in the near future? Especially when I read something like this: http://hinsdale.suntimes.com/news/18703441-418/enrollment-decline-in-hinsdale-district-86.html. I won't dispute that I am sometimes a pain, but, hey, I've learned to ALWAYS ask questions - particularly when the subject relates to math!

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 6:35 PM

Speedway, the reason I called it whining was that the daycare is already there and, clearly, there are plans to keep it well into the future. To complain about it is just to hear oneself complain...it ain't going anywhere. Let the users of it enjoy it in peace. Although I do enjoy laughing about how worked up people get. Oak Park is fun for the level of crazy we have...very high--just like the taxes, right? LOL


Posted: March 7th, 2013 5:44 PM

i'd rather see my tax $$ spent on birth control for OPRF High School students. Feel free to crucify me via comments, I'll still feel that way.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 5:31 PM

I love it when people call others who disagree whiners. ha ha hee hee, lol. I think it is unrealistic and rather self serving to believe all property owners should pay any part of the daycare costs for the high school. If we are subsidizing any part of these costs, I would rather see my money used on something more productive that benefits the whole community and not just a few.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 3:10 PM

The bigger picture is that the people of OP and RF are taxed on their property at one of the highest rates in the state. This makes them vigilant over what their taxes pay for. Most taxpayers don't have subsidized child care in the building where they work. We might not want to subsidize it for the faculty and staff of a school that is not performing at a level consistent with our property taxes. Dazzle us with high performance, and we'll complain less about what its costing us.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 2:38 PM

No, if you read the website it is clear the intent is to serve students, faculty/staff first. My larger point was that the grumpy types will always find something to be grumpy about. Even if it's an important, needed resource and involves small children. Lesson to HuskyPupMom is enjoy your on-site services and let the whiners whine. We complain about everything in OP...eventually, the complaining gets old and people ignore it. lol Paying $250 per week for childcare is about normal.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 2:23 PM

Are you really going to suggest that this facility was located in the high school with the intent of serving the public? The preschool is a subsidized benefit for an already well-paid staff at a lackluster public high school. Taxpayers don't love this sort of thing.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:28 PM

It's open to the public. http://www.oprfhs.org/day-care-program/#.UTjowtbqmSo

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:15 PM

Preschool Parent - I think what the "grumps" might be complaining about is having to pay for their own daycare, and then having to subsidize yours, too. In this economy, that could make a guy grumpy.


Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:11 PM

What resource do "we" have at the HS? Unless it's open to the community I don't have it as a resource. I guess you didn't mean me the general public- just you and your education buddies/family.

Preschool Parent  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 12:57 PM

HuskyPupmom, don't worry about the grumps. It's wonderful that we have that resource at the HS. People in Oak Park would complain about the cost of air if they could. lol

Village Voice  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 12:32 PM

At $104,000 average salary, OPRF teachers can afford their own day care, not have it subsidized on the backs of taxpayers (that goes for their village-subsidized free parking too).

HuskyPupmom from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 11:33 AM

Is there something wrong with having a daycare/preschool in the high school?? God forbid we make it easier on students and teachers with kids.

OP parent  

Posted: March 5th, 2013 7:35 PM

Regarding OPRF preschool: I think the preschool predominantly serves the children of OPRF teachers and though it's physically on the school campus, it is fun by the RF Community Center.


Posted: March 4th, 2013 3:04 PM

The biggest ? is how are they going to pay for it. NO REFERENDUM! I will fight that tooth and nail. I love all the "learning garden", "welcome center", "study cafe and gardens" that a couple years after they build it, they most likely won't let the kids use it.


Posted: March 2nd, 2013 5:25 AM

Why is there a pre-school in our high school? and I am not referring to the administration offices or the boardroom... Husky Pups?

Musician from Oak Park  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 11:59 PM

Where is the band room moving to? And the studio practice rooms? And the instrument locker room? All of the first floor drawings show something else in their current space.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 10:53 PM

I agree with Mr. Israelsohn, the field house should be preserved. While nostalgia isn't going to be the driving force here, that building has served OPRF for generations. And for many years hosted the largest indoor high school track meet in the country--the Oak Park Relays (televised). Instead of turning it into a natatorium and locker rooms, how about creating a modern, 200 meter track? This is a unique space, and once it's gone, it's gone. I belive OPRF should move very cautiously here.


Posted: March 1st, 2013 8:58 PM

@FYI. Thanks for the motivation and information - it led me to this: http://www.oprfhs.org/about/documents/Schoolprofiles70-80.pdf. I see that enrollment topped out at 4,350 in 71-72. Of course this was when there were MUCH larger families in OP and RF. I would sure love for someone to provide the link that the Board keeps referencing regarding future enrollment comparable to the baby boom era. 4,000 students? Justification for this type of surplus? Really?

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 8:55 PM

Now I know what D200 is saving the $130 million surplus for.


Posted: March 1st, 2013 7:30 PM

Enrollment in 1970 was around 4,200. Topped out at just over 4,400 in 1972 or 1973. With no parking garage to the south- still apartment building, and no extra fields across Lake Street- still all business buildings (i.e., tax producing).


Posted: March 1st, 2013 4:19 PM

During the height of the baby boom - when the populations of OP & RF were almost 30% greater - enrollment at OPRFHS was slightly above 4,000. Now, at a time when the 0-10 aged population in OP has declined around 3% in 2010 from 2000, OPRF projects their enrollment to increase from 3,287 today to 4,000 "a decade from now"? That's an increase of over 20!?! School age population in Chicagoland is plummeting and OPRF projects a massive increase? Where is the "study" that they are using for this?

OP Tech Exec  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 10:59 AM

OPRF should condiser a state fo art technology and research center... da

George Bailey from Bedford Falls  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 11:20 PM

We should put the pool underneath a retractable gym floor in the field house.

Mike Lennox from Oak Park  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 9:32 PM

Answer these questions: 1) Will this increase the students test scores and grades? 2)Will it save money, say a ten year payback period? 3) Will the schools budget go down? 4) Will it reduce taxes ! If you can answer Yes to these question, go for it. If not stop!!! Mike Lennox

Ezra Israelsohn from Oak Park  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 6:32 PM

I really think that building in the field house isn't what should be done. Yes it may be old but it's one of the first Field Houses in the US and it would hinder the OPRF Track teams from having a place to practice while its still cold and snowy outside. Most people seem to want to do away with its size and build something taking away from its space. Most students enjoy its large space and its also besides the stadium the only place where the school can house all the students for events.

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