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113 Board Votes on $89 Million Referendum Monday

If measure is approved, voters will decide the fate of capital improvement projects at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools April 9.

A $114 million renovation project for Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools funded in part of an $89 million referendum bond will considered by the Township High School District 113 Board of Education at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Administration Building.

The remaining $25 million will come from current budgets, according to a news release from the District.

Earlier: 113 Board Tackles Funding of Renovation Plans

If the Board approves the measure Monday, citizens will have their say April 9. In part, this plan is a scaled down version of a $133 million proposal rejected by 56 percent of the voters two years ago.

The proposed improvements include $47.8 million to update infrastructure including mechanical systems at both schools, $26.1 million to repurpose, refurbish and rebuild 100-year-old structures at Highland Park High School, $40.8 million to build new swimming pools and gymnasiums at each school and $3.8 million to refurbish the Deerfield High School library. Details can be found on the District website.

“A large part is for upgrading mechanical systems which have outlived their life expectancy,” District Communications Director Natalie Kaplan said. Fire fighting sprinkler coverage will be upgraded. “We will expand sprinkler coverage into uncovered areas.” Wiring at both schools will be upgraded to meet modern technology needs.

At this point Board President Harvey Cohen plans to vote to place the referendum on the April 9 ballot though he promised to keep an open mind.

“I think we owe it to our kids to give them better facilities,” Cohen said. “There will be no negative impact on education, class size, classes offered or extracurricular activities offered. When we complete all the planned (improvements) we’ll have better schools.”

. Sam Shapiro of Highland Park, one of the advocates against the 2010 referendum, questions the new plan.

“I have many concerns over the new plan the Board needs to address before rushing into a new referendum,” Shapiro said. “There are too many questions and concerns.” Among other things, Shapiro wants more information before he can determine whether the 100-year-old buildings should be refurbished.

Harry Steindler of Deerfield, who worked actively to pass the referendum two years ago, is happy with the community process more than 18 months in the making which arrived at the latest set of ideas.

“The process has been fantastic with work by professionals and very involved community members,” Steindler said. “It’s a good approach to tier one improvements and laying the groundwork for future improvements.”

One of Shapiro’s concerns is a lack of detail on potential future work. “The plan is showing only phase one,” he said. “So we don’t know what is included in phase two or three and what it might be.”

In particular, Steindler is pleased the Board found $25 million from existing money rather than pay for everything through a referendum. “It’s a good approach to take some from reserves,” he said. “It’s helpful.”

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phylis bagan January 11, 2013 at 01:32 AM
This referendum is actually over $114Million. Let's NOT forget that reserves are taxpayer dollars. The other "phases"??? Where is THAT information? Where and when is that posted? Also, it's quite misleading g to say there will be only a $47 tax increase on a $300,000 home. That's for the year 2012. It goes WAY up to $247/ year in 2013(on a $$600,000home. ) That is much more indicative of the average home cost in this area. This was from the districts web site.
RonnieTheLimoDriver January 11, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Im interested to understand if the scope being proposed is different from what was proposed for the last referendum? If not, what makes the district think it will pass this time? I don't like to see such a high percentage of the money spent on athletics and physical education.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther January 11, 2013 at 02:12 AM
The project is 114 Million. The referendum is 89 Million. The secondary phases are somewhere down the line, if ever. Because there is no timetable, there is not a valid way to determine future costs, so that is a moot point. It is not part of the referendum. In terms of PE spaces, the pools need to be replaced. They are over 40 years old and in very poor condition. Likewise, Building "C" at Highland Park, which has two gyms, will be very expensive to preserve and put back into condition to meet the 25-50 year criteria for extending the life of the facilities. This makes it necessary to replace those gyms. Both schools suffer from a lack of teaching space for the PE programs as currently offered. Note this is space for education, not athletics. As far as differences from the inital referendum, there are many. For instance, there are no field houses in this proposal. "B" building at Highland Park will be preserved and the space used efficiently. The pool enclosures are smaller. There is no work being performed on the Highland Park cafeteria. These are but a few examples. Those who believed that the cost of construction would not have risen in the two years since the referendum was defeated, were not being realistic. The plan as recommended supports the Tier I priorities developed by the citizen's committees.
Eddie Jacobs January 11, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Very well stated Tripp! Since I did not suppoert the previous referendum.Now, I feel extremely confident that the district and board have done everything possible to develop a master plan that truly reflects what is in the best interest of the educational process as well as being mindful of all segments of our population. The steering committee's recomendations to the school board were as a result of many hours of study, discussion, and analysis of the information provided from the professional firms hired by the board, Perkins & Will and Gilbane and the administration. Of course, cost was an important element in the recomendations. But, more important was trying to do as much as possible to address the tier one needs that were developed from the community and staff study groups while at the same time being careful with "our" money both in terms of propery taxes as well as with the district's funds which I know come primarily from us. The reality is these improvements are needed, overdue, and VERY well documented. The "contributions" from the district's coffers are seperate and distinct from the maintenance and operating funds and show that they have some skin in the game. As for the numbers presented as an example of what the referendum will cost an "average" homeowner, the current example is correct as well as numbers will be presented that reflect post 2013 bond roll off figures. We NEED to support this proposed referendum for current and future generations.
Eddie Jacobs January 11, 2013 at 04:47 AM
Phylis-feel free to call me on Friday and I would be happy to discuss your questions with you. I appreciate your comments.

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