We’ll round up and call the $99,464,830 estimate to rebuild the indoor athletic facilities at OPRF a $100 million plan.
And we’ll agree with Tom Cofsky, the president of the District 200 school board, who called the proposal made to the board on Oct. 27, “jaw dropping.”
Once we get our jaws reset, though, it will be time for a long, hard, interesting conversation at the board table and in the community about what is essential in this plan, what is aspirational, what a middle ground will look like, and how does it all get paid for.
We are firmly on board with the reality that the current athletic facilities on the south end of the Scoville Avenue campus are functionally obsolete. And it is not just the two 94-year-old swimming pools that are beyond reclaiming. This is a 100-year-old portion of school building that has never been invested in beyond some spit and polish. It was built in an era before, happily, girls sports ascended. Locker rooms have no privacy or accommodations for the realities of this more gender fluid time. There are fully inadequate provisions for any student with a disability.
So this is a major project that has to be tackled, and it can’t be pushed off for yet another generation. Can’t be done with nickels and dimes. But this Project 2 portion of the Imagine OPRF capital investment project also has to be realistic in scope and in price. A hard look at what was imagined in Projects 3, 4 and 5 will also need to be considered in light of the high costs of this current effort.
We have confidence that the current school board will be responsible in investing in this essential community asset while being prudent with limited financial resources. The discussion on options for financing what comes next needs to be extraordinarily transparent. And demands that voters have the opportunity to be heard on the scope of the project and its costs are inevitable and reasonable.