New D97 administration building option being explored

Commercial building at Madison and Taylor being considered

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

As District 97 continues its search for a new central office location, officials there are now taking a look at a four-story commercial building on Madison and Taylor as a possible site.

The 101 Madison property is currently on the market and D97 is interested in learning more about it, says Bob Spatz, president of the D97 school board. The building was suggested by the Oak Park Development Corporation, Spatz said. The district, he stressed, is just doing its due-diligence in considering all options for a new administration building.

The four-story Madison property has the space — roughly 15,000 square feet — and adequate parking the district is looking for, Spatz said. The price-tag for the property is $639,000. The first-floor currently has retail and office space with 29 parking spots in the rear. The upper floors have additional office space.

Spatz said he and a few other D97 officials will do a walk-through of the building in the next couple weeks. D97 is looking to downsize from its current 970 Madison headquarters, Spatz said. That building covers about 20,000 square feet, including an almost hidden second floor. D97 administrators have been housed there since the 1970s.

Officials have been looking for a new home since the late 2000s, just before the housing market crashed. The district is still looking at the parking lot at village hall as a possible site, Spatz said, as well as other options.

The plan remains to sell the 970 Madison building, as well as the district's 541 Madison warehouse, once a new headquarters is found, Spatz said. Relocating the district's maintenance operations to the village's public works building remains an option, but there have been no recent talks with the village about that, Spatz said.

In related news, Spatz said the district has received pricing information from developers of the Madison Highlands office project about possibly moving there, but wasn't at liberty to say what that amount is.

The proposed Madison Highlands commercial property would house several tenants, D97 among them. Spatz calls a possible move there "feasible" but only if the price is right.


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Mr and Mrs  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 11:37 AM

That building had its out side redone not too long ago( maybe 6-7 yrs) Not sure on the inside. There used top be an Army recruiting office on ground level which has vacated. What ever happens with the Admin bldg, I hope they can find a viable solution to the AC issue facing our older school buildings.


Posted: September 27th, 2013 10:40 AM

Odd time to be worrying about a new building. See latest news from D97: "Of the ten schools in District 97 ... Seven schools failed to make AYP but are not identified for Federal Improvement Status. Beye did not make AYP for the third consecutive year. As a Title I school, it is in Federal Improvement Status. Brooks did not make AYP for the fourth consecutive year and has received a change in State Improvement Status. The district as a whole also did not make AYP."


Posted: September 27th, 2013 6:43 AM

That building is a dump!! How much would be spent on renovating it? And no parking!! The lot behind is very small. Also, I always liked the openness off the street accessibility of the district office, would they move to the first floor? What retail is there now? At least there is a McDonalds next door.


Posted: September 26th, 2013 4:39 PM

Gosh, darn williker; can't win when children are invovled.

Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 3:49 PM

@Huh... Nothing was implied about the comparison between D97 and D100 other than the level of funding available for use in purchasing greater levels of technology in Berwyn. As I said, it is a nice town and your top-notch kids would be welcomed there. As to masses of families leaving OP, I haven't seen it happen over the past 8 years. I believe most people are pretty happy with their schools. People come and go, but the district has maintained and grown. Full day K didn't do it all.

Oak Parker  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 3:42 PM

Poor performance or lack of growth on the ISAT in D97 is actually just another fad myth when the district is viewed as a whole. Subgroup growth has made steady progress, but started at a much lower level. All progress across the state pretty much halted when the levels of ISAT performance required passing rates of 85% and up. This was the flaw of NCLB. You can't keep progressing beyond a certain point because of the nature of student populations. Everyone can't meet the goal or it's too easy.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 3:39 PM

Scott- The ISAT certainly has flaws as an assessment instrument, but, with every district taking the same test, they're all subject to the same flaws. It's a reasonable way to compare the achievement of one district to another. It's a cop-out to say that our kids are better educated than their ISAT results show. It's equally possible that kids in districts with higher ISAT scores are also better educated than their results show.

Huh? from Oak Park   

Posted: September 26th, 2013 3:38 PM

Dear Oak Parker, Those children of mine who are old enough to take the ISATs score in the high 90th percentile and they are in a Title I school already, so I am sure Berwyn would not mind having them. The question is, can OP afford to lose more students? Especially of that caliber?

Oak Parker  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 3:36 PM

My comment about ISAT performance and low income numbers did not imply correlation. They were just facts. Lower passing rates on ISAT are just a number, but it is the current measure by how districts are judged, whether you like it or not. D100's goal to be top 25% is based on that measurement. Low income statistics tie to Title I funding allocations and school-wide Title I designations allow for a greater latitude of use (e.g. purchase of technology devices) than targeted Title I designations.

OP cntd.   

Posted: September 26th, 2013 3:01 PM

We have wrapped ourselves in analysis of the cost of technology and moving when the core issue is lack of performance by Board. The costs are IRRELEVANT if they are knocking the cover off the ball. The cost discussion is driven by we dont see the value - which is driven by a technocrat driven board.. 97.


Posted: September 26th, 2013 2:58 PM

The poor performance (or lack of growth) in ISAT is a symptom of deeper issues with OP97 board and Roberts. Our board while well intentioned, is better at driving adminstrative requirements that innovation. Roberts is an excellent politician who know how to work the OP system. Perhaps Barber saw this coming and jumped ship before the wreck. Nonetheless, leadership, vision and strategy are lacking - hate to be harsh but if we truly reflect and think, we will find it is true.


Posted: September 26th, 2013 1:59 PM

@Oak Parker - If you are insinuating that the ISAT scores have a direct correlation to level of education children are receiving, you are sadly mistaken. "Drill and Kill" testing doesn't capture how children are being educated.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 1:11 PM

Why the delay in moving on relocating the school district's maintenance operations to the village's public works building? That facilty is severely underutiliized. This should have been a done deal. Let's get both sides talking!

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:58 AM

Enuf - or they are planning on adding more staff?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 11:34 AM

The 'due diligence' that Bob Spatz claims needs to include a programming and cost-benefit analysis that shows the initial and long-term repair and maintenance costs of the option to relocate to a new site, to that of remaining at the current location. The idea of vertically fragmenting a relatively small D97 staff in a 4-story building is a recipe for inefficient bureaucratic operations.

Fool Me Once  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 10:59 AM

Make that three-quarters.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 10:58 AM

Didn't Spatz say at the Sept 10 meeting something to the effect that the board had not seen any potential replacements for the D97 building and was not actively looking to move? Plesae correct me if I am wrong.

Fool Me Once  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 10:57 AM

Impressive stats from Berwyn schools given four-fifths of their student population is low income.

Oak Parker  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 10:13 AM

Berwyn is a nice town and I'm sure you would be happy there. Just so you know, academic results for Berwyn are not as high as in D97, with 81% meeting or exceeding on the ISAT and 76% being low income. D97 is 91% on the ISAT and 21% low income. Also, Berwyn 100 has more Title I funding available and greater flexibility in using Title I $ for tech. This is from the IIRC website at Northern Illinois Univ.

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 9:29 AM

Berwyn has air conditioned schools, 1:1 Macbooks and smart boards in every classroom. The taxes and /or rent are also a lot less. Maybe it is time to start looking, rent out my OP house and come back for high school? D97 is out of control.

Fool Me Once from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 8:53 AM

Huh? has summed it up perfectly. If this building has been falling apart since the '70s, why are we just realizing this now? Why wasn't it on the list of tragedies, along with arts and gifted programs, that were set to befall us if we didn't pass the last referendum? So tired of the propaganda campaigns trotted out before all the expensive projects are undertaken in this town. Time for some belt tightening to align OP with the rest of the world.

Bill Kopper  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 8:46 AM

Do our Board members have a tin ear? Clearly the people want the Elementary schools improved. The current office is just fine. Why can't the district consider green options like telecommuting? Why do civic bodies always need a new Taj Mahal? Finally in the real world, private industry, it is considered cool to have no office. If the district get a new space - EVERYONE - should have a cubicle and the board should plan for their next civic engagement.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 1:56 AM

Speedway, I recommend that you and any other interested parties take a close look at this building. How in the world would the school board ever consider this property adequate and appropriate for the district offices . We need to learn much more about who is pushing for and behind this purchase. The price seems too high and the costs to fix it up would be significant.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 26th, 2013 1:14 AM

Seriously and Watchful: You would have the D97 staff work all summer long in a building without AC that probably has no windows that open or are they closed for the summer along with the schools?

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 11:12 PM

That buildng needs a lot of work! A whole lot of work! Who is asking $639,000 for this property and how much is District 97 prepared to spend to rehab it? We should all be "interested in learning more about it" before Bob Spatz and the school board agree to this deal. Does OPDC really think this is worthwhile expenditure?

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 9:46 PM

Lying liars who lie.


Posted: September 25th, 2013 8:58 PM

Air conditioning in the schools must come before a new office space for administrators. It's a no brainer.

Watchful from OPRF  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 7:45 PM

At last night's D97 Board meeting, "air conditioning" was listed as an "aspirational" expense. I trust the new administration building will NOT have A/C until every classroom in the district does. Aspirational! 8, 9 and 10 year olds in 95-degree heat in 3rd floor classrooms facing west.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 7:29 PM

This is a better alternative then spending $10 million on a new building in the Village Hall parking lot. Plus it is within a half block of village hall so they can share whatever they want to share.


Posted: September 25th, 2013 7:04 PM

Considering the district's interest in technology I don't understand why they don't just buy all the administrators a lap top and let them work from home. That and a conference room should be all they need and surely the village could let them borrow a conference room now and then.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 6:08 PM

A better option on east Madison St is the former CEDA building on the north side of the street. Parking & plenty of's in receivership so the price should be low. The Lyman building, while not much to look at, is at least pretty full with tax paying commercial tenants.

Anne Bowhay from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 5:16 PM

This option would keep an anchor building on struggling Madison Street. But building BEHIND the Village Hall would further erode Madison - when D97 moves, it would leave another empty Madison building for a new headquarters not visible on Madison. And per D97 plans considered last fall, building on the Village Hall parking lot might require a very costly underground parking structure, despite empty surface lots nearby, also on Madison.

muriel from schnierow  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 5:15 PM

on another subject we need an over 55 community in Oak park so the boomers dont go elsewhere. they have money to spend.

RichF from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 5:10 PM

Isn't Village Hall and McDonald's at Taylor and Madison? You mean the building at Lyman and Madison?

OP res 253  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 4:56 PM

If the district has too much room at present, why do they have a warehouse?

Just Asking from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 4:54 PM

I assume the point of all of this is to spend less on the new facility then they anticipate selling the old? If this doesn't create positive cash flow, what would be the point?

Very important question  

Posted: September 25th, 2013 4:48 PM

Is there air conditioning in this building?

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