Oak Park Elementary School District 97 will explore sharing administrative office space with another taxing body as it weighs the future of its Madison Street headquarters.

The Park District of Oak Park appears to be at the top of that list, according to officials from D97 and the park district. A discussion about the headquarters occurred at the school district’s Nov. 29 regular meeting. After an hour-long study session by the board, members generally supported the idea of sharing administrative office space with another taxing body. Members of the Oak Park park board were also in attendance at the meeting.

Martin Bracco, president of the park board, said the park district was open to sharing administrative space with D97. School board officials also expressed support for that idea, but Peter Barber, D97 board president, said the elementary school district would also reach out to other taxing bodies.

Bracco said the park district’s 218 Madison St. headquarters would be a likely location for D97.

“We’re open, willing and able to partner with you if it makes sense for all of us, and the bottom line is the community is demanding it,” he said. “We don’t have a choice as to not consider this as a serious option.”

The park district would also look to acquire the school district’s warehouse at 541 Madison, Bracco said, if D97 explores sharing warehouse space at the Village of Oak Park’s Public Works building, 201 South Blvd. D97 officials said they’re exploring that option as well.

The central office building currently houses administrative and support staff, as well as the D97 board room. The facility contains roughly 20,000 square feet, but D97 officials say they don’t currently use all of that space. In terms of square-footage, Bracco said the park district’s headquarters could accommodate D97’s central office staff. Some physical changes would first need to be made to their building, he said, and the park district would need to determine how much that would cost.

Bracco noted that the park district is likely to move its gymnastics center from 218 Madison to the former Aldi building at Lake Street and Humphrey Avenue, thus freeing up space, but no vote is planned this month concerning that move.

The D97 board last week discussed various options concerning their headquarters but made no official decision. Barber said the district will come to some decision by next June.

The board discussed various scenarios for the building — a former car dealership that the district bought in the 1970s. The Madison Street headquarters, D97 officials maintain, has several structural issues, including a leaky roof and cooling and heating problems. Board members nixed the idea of simply renovating the building.

They shied away from housing both administration and some kind of student service in a single building. The idea of an all-encompassing facility of administration, student services and perhaps some other tenant or entity was also ruled out. Ultimately, the board decided that the most practical and cost-effective option was sharing space with another taxing body.

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