District 113 Continues to Look at Renovation Needs
School officials gave residents a tour of Deerfield High School to show them what needs work.
Deerfield High School students and faculty showed residents old classroom furniture, outdated projectors and rusting gutters during a tour of of the school's facilities at Township High School District 113's second of six community outreach meetings on Tuesday evening.
School officials conducted the session to get comments from residents after Superintendent George Fornero was asked by the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a long-range facilities and technology plan.
The process began in April after a series of public meetings about the turf on Wolter's Field at Highland Park High School.
"The sentiment was loud and clear," Fornero said at the meeting. "While Wolter's Field was one piece of the puzzle, there are other facility needs that we need to address."
During the summer, Fornero and his staff gave presentations of the district's needs to the state board, which said that changes to the two high schools needed to be validated by the community.
"Rather than saying ,'This is what we need,' the board said, 'Let's go out and listen,' " Fornero said. "That's what we're doing right now."
After receiving input from the high schools' faculty and staff, Fornero said that the state board hired an architectural engineering firm to assess the physical and technological needs, determine a long-range plan and estimate an accurate cost for the improvements.
Deerfield High School's structural condition was discussed by its principal, Audris Griffith, who noted 40 percent of the roof needed to be repaired, ceiling tiles were falling and gutters were rusting. However, the conversations focused heavily on classroom assets, cramped space inside the building, inadequate storage space and a lack of technology.
As part of the meeting, attendees were taken on a tour of the high school. Faculty and students acted as tour guides, pointing out flooding issues, spotty wireless connections, outdated classroom furniture as well as the poor condition of locker rooms, classrooms and ventilation in the pool area. Staff also mentioned the building is not air-conditioned.
Attention was also drawn to the fact that classrooms still used overhead projectors instead of the high-tech, interactive Promethean boards found in many of the feeder grade schools.
There was little mention of how the district was going to finance all the desired changes.
"There are some questions out there about how we're going to fund these projects," said the district's board president, Bonnie Shlensky. "That is really understandable, but a bit premature."
Shlensky said by the next meeting, the board would have a better understanding of the community's priorities for the high schools and discuss "potential funding methods."
The tour of Deerfield High ended with meeting attendees being asked to provide feedback and rank a list of 24 items based on their renovation priority. Among the highest ranked responses was to "provide state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and educational spaces to support 21st Century learning." The lowest ranked response was to "create a state-of-the-art facility to be regarded as best in class nationally."
Attendees discussed the possibility of Deerfield and Highland Park high schools sharing assets instead of duplicating facilities, the classroom needs of the 2015 freshman class and improvements that should be made to the outdoor sports fields.
Residents will get another opportunity to weigh in on the district's plans at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Deerfield High School, 1959 N. Waukegan Rd.