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Park Forest’s Rich East High School could be closing.
Tuesday evening, District 227 board members considered options for remedying the district’s deteriorating buildings and a student body district officials say no longer warrants three high schools.
District 227 plans to hold community forums over the next month to hear from residents on how to best address the issues. Options considered include school closings, mergers, repairs to all three buildings, or the purchase of a new facility to house all district students.
“If we do nothing and continue to try to staff all of the schools and make repairs out of operating dollars, then we’ll see declines in revenues, increases in expenditures and declines in fund balances,” Dr. Alicia Evans, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations for District 227, said.Evans presented six options to district board members Monday night. The least expensive of the options calls for the purchase of a new building and the partial renovation on an existing building for an estimated $105 million. The most expensive of the options calls for repairing and improving all three Rich Township high schools for an estimated $399 million.The full list of options presented by District 227 include:
1. Repair all of the buildingsEstimated cost: $169.6 million2. Repair and upgrade all of the buildingsEstimated cost: $3993. Upgrade two schools and eliminate oneEstimated cost: $241.6 - $285
4. Build a new facility on an existing site to house the full student bodyEstimated cost: $367 million
5. Build a new facility on existing site and upgrade one facilityEstimated cost: $288.2 million
6. Purchase a facility and partially renovate an existing facilityEstimated cost: $105.6 million
District officials say although six options are being considered, public input could increase the choices.“These are true options that we’re looking at that we want to ask the community more about in the future,” Evans said.
Community forums begin June 20 at Rich South High School and continue through July 9. Forums are set for:
June 20 from 6 to 7 p.m.Rich South High School5000 Sauk TrailRichton Park, Il 60471June 29 from 10 to 11 a.m.District 227 office20550 S. Cicero Ave.Matteson, IL 60443July 2 from 6 to 7 p.m.Rich East High School3000 Sauk TrailPark Forest, IL 60466July 9 from 1 to 2 p.m.District 227 office20550 S. Cicero Ave.Matteson, IL 60443July 9 from 6 to 7 p.m.Rich Central High School3600 203rd St.Olympia Fields, IL 60461
Park Forest’s Rich East, first opened in 1952, is the district’s oldest high school.District officials say the estimated cost to replace Rich East is $42.7 million while the estimated cost to simply make repairs to the building – not including any upgrades past repairs – is $59.9 million.The district’s other high schools, Olympia Fields’ Rich Central, opened in 1962, and Richton Park’s Rich South, opened in 1971, also need repairs, officials say. Rich Central needs an estimated $39 million in repairs and Rich South needs an estimated $32.6 million in repairs, Evans said. District 227 estimates an increase to resident tax bills of just under one hundred dollars or up to $2,000 depending on the option selected and where residents reside.
Though the district says all three high schools remaining open is an option, board members admit an important factor is the district’s student body of 3,000. “Student wise, we don’t have enough for three buildings,” board member Cheryl Coleman said.The school district hopes to make a decision shortly after the community forums conclude with a timeline for construction for the yet to be determined plan to be 2021-2025.
“At some point a decision will need to be made and actions will need to be taken,” Evans said.