Getting confused by the complex room numbering system at Oak Park and River Forest High School is virtually a rite of passage for many of the high school’s freshmen, as iconic an experience as OPRF’s century-old tradition of seniors donning dresses and suits at graduation. 

The dress and suit tradition ended in 2019, giving way to the more common commencement tradition of caps and gowns. OPRF’s confusing room numbers may be on a similar path to cultural oblivion. 

During a Committee of the Whole meeting on Dec. 3, the District 200 school board discussed a recommendation by district administrators to undertake an overhaul of the high school’s renumbering and wayfaring system amid the first phase of capital improvements related to the Imagine OPRF facilities master plan. 

Ronald Anderson, D200’s director of operations, said the district should start the renumbering and wayfaring project amid the $32.6 million first phase construction work — which includes building a new student resource center, a new south cafeteria and new classrooms, among other projects. 

Anderson said the district is prepared to pay architectural firm FGM Architects, which is handling the construction work, to provide room renumbering and wayfaring signage design services. The money for the project would come from funds budgeted for the first phase construction work. Any costs related to the signage and wayfaring project that fall outside the first phase work will be paid out of the district’s building maintenance fund. 

Anderson said FGM will charge the district no more than $45,000 for any costs related to the renumbering project that fall outside of the scope of the first phase construction work.  

“This is something that, as we understand it, was born out of the master plan,” said Josh Czerniak, of FGM Architects at the Dec. 3 board meeting. 

“The feedback gained by the Imagine committee, particularly from students, was that the building is very difficult to navigate, because the existing numbering system really doesn’t make sense and there is a lack of wayfaring signage in the building that certainly doesn’t aid in terms of the numbering,” Czerniak said. 

He added that now was the “ideal time” to implement the room renumbering project, since the new construction projects, including the renovation or building of dozens of new classrooms, will require new room numbering and room signage, anyway. 

During the Dec. 3 meeting, virtually all of the D200 board members agreed that the process of renumbering OPRF and creating new signage should be a collaborative effort and that students, staff and community members should play key roles in the process. 

“I love this for a crowdsourcing project, for a bunch of students in the community,” said board member Craig Iseli.

“Having been a parent who travels thorough the school and having been a student 30 years ago who traveled through the school and tried to figure out where [room 272] is, I feel like there are a lot of people who would … be thrilled and excited to engage in that process,” said board member Gina Harris. 

Board member Jackie Moore said she would prefer the district wait before spending money on the signage and wayfaring project, particularly in light of pending budget cuts. She said, while she agrees with Iseli that the project should be a community affair, she wanted the district to hold off on the expense.

District administrators requested that the board vote on the FGM contract at the next regular meeting on Dec. 17, but the contract did not appear on the meeting’s agenda. 


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