Tony Arbogast, OPRF assistant superintendent for Business Services, reports to the school board on July 13 about a transformer knocked out of commission.| Bob Skolnik

A thunderstorm on July 2 caused flooding and sparked a fire that irreparably damaged three transformers that provide electricity to Oak Park and River Forest High School. Power was lost in the north wing of the building and since then electricity at OPRF has been at about one third of normal.  Summer school classes had to be held remotely for one day, July 3, and since then all summer school classes have been moved to classrooms in the newer part of the school. The damaged transformers were rendered inoperable and cannot be repaired.

On July 13 the OPRF school board approved spending between $75,000 and $100,000 to rent and install a transformer for the rest of the summer to restore power to the north wing of the building as administrators work to develop a solution for the upcoming school year that starts in about a month.

“We’re investigating really the long term solution to start the school year,” said Anthony Arbogast, the new assistant superintendent for business services. “There are a few options on the table and we’re just right now hammering out the details in terms of what’s the most cost effective and what is realistic.”

Arbogast told Wednesday Journal that the school will have a long term fix in place by the start of the school year. That could involve buying new transformers or renting them.

The school is investigating whether the cost of the rental of the transformer and the cost of replacing the transformers will be covered by insurance. OPRF owned the transformers that were damaged and cannot be repaired.

New school board member appointment delayed

The school board had anticipated appointing the replacement for Kebreab Henry on the school board on July 13 but that appointment was delayed for a few days because one of the three finalists could not be present for a second interview on that date. The board has scheduled a special meeting for July 18 to interview that finalist in closed session at 6 p.m. The board will then deliberate and expects to make the appointment later that evening when the board reconvenes in open session at 7:30 p.m.

The three finalists are lawyer Patience Clark-Keys, project manager Leslie Stephenshaw and Aubrey Williams-Lee, who is the Chief People Officer at Lurie Children’s Hospital. All three live in Oak Park.

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