District 113 Holds First of Three Improvement Plan Meetings
Leadership team members, architects discussed the importance of assembling a master plan and emphasized transparency and community involvement at Deerfield High School on Monday night.
Presenting a list of improvements in order of priority, speakers at Monday's meeting discussed ways to improve both the physical and educational aspects of District 113's two high schools. Though no costs for repairs were disclosed, the list was ordered into tiers from need-to-have to nice-to-have.
(Editor's Note: Speakers at Monday's meeting indicated that the slideshow with specific details from the presentation would soon be posted on District 113's website. The exact link will be added to this article once the slides are up.)
"The exercise that we're embarking upon," said Mark Jolicoeur, the K-12 Education Market Leader at Perkins and Will Architecture firm, "is a long-term view of your facilities."
The meeting began with Walter "Tripp" Hainsfurther and David Brint, who gave an overview of the leadership team recommendations they presented in May. They introduced Jolicoeur and Perkins and Will Principal Architect Steve Turckes. Jolicoeur discussed the high schools' physical needs, while Turckes discussed its educational needs.
"As Highland Park has grown over time you get these discontiguous types of spaces," Turckes said. "How can we get those spaces that want to be next to each other next to each other?"
With an eye on project cost, both architects mentioned that many of the needs facing the district could be met with affordable measures, and not necessarily all at once.
"It could be as simple as changing the names on the door," Turckes said. "We're trying to be as cost conscious as we can."
For the physical alterations, both the architects as well as Brint and Hainsfurther discussed solutions that emphasized cost-effectiveness as well as durability.
"You hear talk about going to Chevy components instead of Cadillac components," Hainsfurther said.
A more open process than the last
After the presentations were made, attendees submitted written questions that were fielded by Brint and Hainsfurther. Many mentioned the last attempt by the district to renovates its schools, with an unsuccessful bond referendum in 2011.
"It was an awful lot of money, and I don't think a compelling case was made for why that money should be spent," Brint said about the $133 million referendum. "I don't think it was narrowed down to what was needed at the time… Hopefully the process will … will be a little more acceptable to the community."
The meeting seemed to go a long way for residents like David Greenberg who were vehemently opposed to the 2011 referendum.
"This is what we should have done," Greenberg said about the district's outreach to residents for involvement in the plan. "This is everything we've been asking for… an in-depth analysis of the costs."
Other residents, however, were nonplussed with the meeting. Rose and Lawrence Feder expressed concern that the district has refused to disclose the raw data from a marketing survey it conducted earlier this year.
"The survey results should be released," Rose Feder said.
Another resident who was unhappy with the meeting was Phylis Bagan, a member of Education First, the community group that organized against the 2011 referendum. She was frustrated that she had to write her questions down, and that questions were only answered by Brint and Hainsfurther rather than board members. She would have preferred to have been able to stand up and speak during the meeting to members of the board.
"I'm entitled to have my words heard," Bagan said.
Board members Michael Smith and Marjie Sandlow were pleased with how the meeting went and optimistic about the process going forward.
"I thought the presentation was superb," Smith said. "I hope everyone in the community takes the opportunity to get educated."
Sandlow was especially glad to see the involvement of Brint, Hainsfurther and other community members who have sat on small teams throughout the past year to help study the district's needs.
"Community members gives a lot of credibility to the process," Sandlow said. "Hopefully the community will see that."
The next two public meetings, Oct. 2 and Nov. 27, are both scheduled for 7 p.m. at Highland Park High School.