D97 approves Holmes addition, Multicultural Center sale

Oak Park Public Library still needs to approve acquisition

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

At its July 12 regular meeting, the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education unanimously approved the construction of a five-classroom addition to Holmes Elementary School, 508 N Kenilworth Ave. 

The project, which also includes renovations and a series of mandatory life-safety improvements — such as repairing walls and replacing fire alarms and smoke detectors — in the existing building, is projected to cost $4,941,300. 

The school board also unanimously approved an estimated $5,220,900 for mandatory life-safety improvements at Beye Elementary, Hatch Elementary, Mann Elementary and Julian Middle School. 

Both the Holmes project and the district-wide life-safety improvement project are scheduled to be completed during the summer of 2017. The district tapped the architectural firm STR Partners for design services and the construction management firm Bully & Andrews for general contracting services on both projects.

 Multicultural Center collection

The District 97 Multicultural Center's expansive inventory of books, antiques, artwork and other cultural artifacts from across the world is now the property of the Oak Park Public Library. 

The D97 school board unanimously approved the sale of the inventory, which includes more than 15,000 items, at its July 12 regular meeting. The library board will meet soon to vote on approving the purchase for a nominal fee.

The purchase comes in the wake of the library's offer to the district in May to house the Multicultural Center inside of the library's Dole Branch, 255 August Blvd., after learning that the center would be forced to relocate from its home inside of Julian Middle School, 416 S. Ridgeland Ave. 

School district officials have said that the space inside Julian is needed to accommodate the school's growing student body.

Many of the 15,000 items listed in the nearly 300-page bill of sale are books and other small artifacts valued at between $5 and $20. Some items, like a red clay vase from Bulgaria, are valued at $100. 

At the July 12 meeting where the sale was approved, D97 board members directed district officials to draft a resolution reassuring the public that the sale would make the Multicultural Center's collection and services more accessible to students, parents, teachers and staff in the district, and to the general public. 

David Seleb, Oak Park Public Library's executive director, has said that the center's location within the Dole Branch will allow it to have more expansive hours. He also said that some library staff members will be designated to help maintain the collection. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

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