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News from the December 12th Special Board of Education Meeting

News from the December 12th Special Board of Education Meeting

The District 64 Board of Education held a special meeting on Tuesday, December 12th, in the Hendee Rooms at the Jefferson Early Childhood Center.  You can view the meeting video here

Approve Summer 2024 Construction Projects
Motion Approved

After the November 16th Board Meeting, the District conducted several environmental tests on the gym floors at each elementary school to determine the mercury level in the gymnasium floors. The summary of results shows that the levels are significantly lower than what is permissible by OSHA. 

Update on Lincoln Construction and Discussions with the City of Park Ridge

This topic contains a lot of nuances, and we recommend that community members watch the previous two Board meetings to fully understand the context around each situation. More information and direction will be provided at the January 25th Board meeting. 

Two significant discussions are happening at the same time. One is exploring the need for an addition at Lincoln Middle School to expand the Structured Learning Community (SLC), a program where students with Autism are served in our District. The second is a new master facilities study for all schools across the district, starting with the middle schools. 

The planning and research process is ongoing, but we have collected valuable feedback from staff to help paint a picture of Lincoln’s needs and areas for improvement. A questionnaire was sent to some Lincoln and Emerson staff members in leadership roles, and this helped get a general idea of what a new master facilities plan should look like. 

“They just feel like the teaching spaces are really inferior to what they need to meet the needs of all of our students. When you walk into a science room at Lincoln, and then you walk into a science room at most other places, what the teachers can do is just unbelievable, and what our teachers can’t do is really frustrating,” Superintendent Dr. Ben Collins explained to the Board. 

The issues at Lincoln, which was built 70 years before Emerson (1928 compared to 1998), can be summarized into three high-level items. 

  1. Lincoln has more square footage than Emerson right now, but not all of the footage is usable. 
  2. The quality of the square footage at Lincoln is lower across the board compared to Emerson.
  3. The organization of the square footage is less effective.

In conjunction with looking at the spaces at the middle schools, Wight prepared some renderings of a three-story addition to Lincoln, which would house the SLC program and students with other Emotional Support needs. These renderings focused on the outside look of the addition first. Wight used brick and stone because they wanted to preserve the character and history of the existing building. 

The renderings and the cost projections are very preliminary and not what they will be at the end of the process or even next month. As we put together the first round of calculations, it is important to note that they are based on architectural cost estimates of a square foot price. These numbers do not consider what is actually being built in that space. Based on those predictions, Wight and Company explained that the architectural cost estimate would be around $5 - $6 million to build only the first floor of an addition. Then, the estimated architectural cost for each floor after the 1st would be $2.5 million to $3 million for a shell and $2.5 to $3 million to build out the level. 

Again, we just want people to know that these are just the first round of numbers, and we will have more estimates to present at the January 25th Board meeting.

Any construction like this would require the District to meet with several entities to formalize things. Dr. Parisi and other District administrators have been meeting with the City of Park Ridge to get the planning process underway and line up the next steps with the city:

  1. Appearance Committee - The District will talk about parking and traffic flow.
  2. Planning and Zoning - The District will present designs to Planning and Zoning in the next few months to ensure we have all the permits in order.
  3. City Council
  4. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD)

Approve Resolution #1325 declaring the intention to issue not to exceed $10,000,000 Working Cash Fund Bonds for the purpose of increasing the District’s Working Cash Fund, and directing that notice of such intention be published in the manner provided by law.

Motion Approved

Dr. Parisi and the Board clarified that this action does not mean the District is committed to borrowing the $10 million. It is just the beginning of the process, and we’re keeping all options available. 

Together We Discover, Learn, Grow & Care

At D64, our mission is to foster opportunities for discovery, engagement, and growth for all students. We accomplish this by nurturing interdependence, appreciation of differences, and care for self and others.

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