D200's and Imagine's recommendations

Opinion: Columns

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By Monica Sheehan

Both the District 200 administration and the Imagine OPRF group have issued facility plan recommendations to the school board. In the Dec. 11 meeting agenda, the administration suggests that the board could consider moving forward with the $65 million Component D (called Sequence 2 in the Imagine plan), housing a 10-lane competition pool with a dedicated diving well and a 600-seat aquatic center, while spending the administration-recommended $32 million on facility improvements, including special education program needs and classroom renovations. 

In addition, the administration recommends that the board immediately transfer $20 million of operating fund reserves into a capital reserve fund to address future projects within its facilities.

Before presenting its $218 million master facility plan to the board for acceptance, the Imagine group attached a long list of recommendations, linked in the Nov. 15 meeting agenda, Executive Summary, page 7. Imagine's recommendations are an act of overreach. Their intent is to exert undue influence and control over the plan, its implementation and funding.

One recommendation pressures the board to push through the first phases of the plan, Sequences 1 & 2, bypassing voters on the $95 million expenditure, before the April 2019 election when three of the seven board seats will be up for grabs. 

Sequence 1 would earmark $28 million to relocate the library and tutoring center to the middle of the building, along with some classroom renovations. These same academic "opportunities" were identified in another recent plan, the 2016 Long Term Facility Plan. In contrast to the Imagine plan, the nearly yearlong 2016 plan included no overreaching recommendations for the board.

In Imagine's Sequence 2, $67 million would be spent on demolishing and rebuilding the southeast corner of the structurally sound building to house a pool that is double the size of a standard-size high school competition pool in a large aquatic center. While Imagine says its pool only costs $2.5 million (digging the hole, its mechanicals and liner), in reality, Sequence 2's entire $67 million price tag is an associated pool construction cost. It is cost prohibitive to build this oversized pool within the existing building, based on 2014 estimates of $80-87 million, while the other elements in the proposed four-story sports complex could be addressed and accommodated through repairs and renovations.

The board begins discussing its newly accepted facility plan at its meeting this week, which could include Imagine's recommendation to push through a $95 million expenditure without voter authorization, and the administration's recommendations, which include the suggestion that the board could move forward on Component D with its 17-lane practice pool and aquatic center with seating for 600 spectators. A formal facility plan recommendation and action item will be included in the agenda of the Dec. 20 regular board meeting.

Please consider emailing the board, BoE@oprfhs.org, regarding these recommendations and assert your right to vote on D200's largest capital works project ever. A board seat is not a blank check.

Monica Sheehan is a member of OPRF Pragmatic Solutions.

Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2018 3:37 PM

The board should try to do what the community wants, not jam things down our throat. Avoiding a vote they know they will lose, again, is a clear sign of the school board's utter contempt for the citizens and the democratic process. We need to clean house.

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