Oak Park Elementary School District 97 officials are looking for ways to reduce the roughly $736,000 they estimate it will take to move the district’s maintenance operations from 541 Madison St. to the village of Oak Park’s Public Works Center, 201 South Blvd., before the start of 2018.
According to Dr. Alicia Evans, District 97’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations, the village will not allow the district to share electricity, phone, heating or internet service at the public works building.
According to STR Architects and Bully & Andrews, a range of modifications estimating to cost $701,294 will need to happen to the building’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical and fire protection systems in order for it to accommodate the up to five school district employees at the 7,685-square-foot space.
Evans said that the district will likely need to pay other costs associated with the move, including nearly $19,000 for a mover, $400 a month to store records and for fees related to retrieving files, $400 a month for internet usage, $4,000 for fencing and up to $300 a month for six months on climate control for storing print shop paper.
In 2014, the school district entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the village of Oak Park that allowed it to build a new administration building at 260 Madison St., using $6.3 million of TIF funds. In exchange, the village got the district’s old administration building at 970 Madison St., which it plans to redevelop.
The agreement also entailed the district entering into a 40-year, rent-free lease to relocate its maintenance operations. At the time, district officials had anticipated that the arrangement would result in long-term savings for the district.
Those anticipated savings were used in school district’s informational pieces to explain the need for a $13.3 million tax increase for general operations. That tax increase was passed by referendum in April, along with a $57.5 million bond issue for capital improvements in the school district.
During an Oct. 10 regular meeting, District 97 board member Robert Spatz said that the district’s lease agreement with the village to use the public works buildings for maintenance may still lead to cost-savings, but not as much as the district had hoped for.
The school board on Oct. 10 also authorized district officials to work with the village to try reducing the costs related to the relocation. The board directed district officials to look for other options if relocating the maintenance operations to the village’s public works building doesn’t prove to be the most cost-effective solution.