970 Madison St.

It’ll be another year before District 97 will once again own its Madison Street headquarters.

Oak Parkers may have been unaware, forgotten — or perhaps never cared — that Oak Park’s elementary school district has not had ownership of its central office at 970 Madison St. since 2007. That’s when D97 and the Village of Oak Park entered into a somewhat creative intergovernmental agreement to send over much-needed cash at the time to the elementary schools. In all, D97 received roughly $2 million from the village, paid out of the Madison Street TIF.

The deal involved the Village purchasing the headquarters and then leasing it back to the district for $1 a year through 2011 — known as the “sale/leaseback” agreement. The Village’s “transfer price” totaled $2.37 million, paid out to D97 in two installments between fall 2007 and early 2008, according to the agreement.

Therese O’Neill, D97’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations, this week said the property will revert back to the district’s ownership in December 2012.

The district’s administration and support staff are housed at the Madison Street headquarters, which is also where the school board holds its meetings. The district’s warehouse is located further south on Madison. The school district has maintained operations and maintenance at the central office throughout the duration of the leaseback deal.

D97 had been struggling with a structural deficit for much of the 2000s but solved that issue by passing its referendum earlier this year. But the village stepped in four years ago to help the then-cash-strapped school district.

Meanwhile, D97 has been weighing the future of its headquarters. Its Facilities Advisory Committee two months ago presented a report outlining options for the headquarters. Those options included sharing office space with retail in a renovated or newly-built headquarters.

Officials on the board and administration, however, stress that there are not immediate plans for the building and that current discussions are only preliminary.

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