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After 18 Months of Study, Architects Debut District 113 Master Plan

Board of Education will now decide what to implement, when, and how to fund it.

District 113 held community meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to present its Long Range Facility Master Plan.

Click here to view the presentation in its entirety.

“To create facilities that foster educational excellence while respecting the District’s taxpayers,” was identified at the beginning of the presentation as the main goal of the planning process. The guiding principle was originally coined by community members who volunteered to sit on one of District 113’s study groups back in May 2011 to help analyze and prioritize the high schools’ needs. At the end of the study group process, members formulated a list of priorities divided into four tiers. Those tiers were presented to the Board of Education and guided architects during the design phase.   
 
“This presentation comes after more than 18 months of work,” District 113 Superintendent George Fornero said. “We’ve been working extremely hard to make sure this plan is in the best interests of our students, staff, and entire community. Many community members provided essential input, serving as
leaders in the study group process.”
 
On Tuesday, District 113’s architects Perkins+Will summarized the meaning of a master plan and its benefits to a community like District 113, “A master plan is a long term-strategy that lets you improve education by efficiently planning for the future. Once the plan is in place, you have a roadmap to follow that avoids potential conflicts and spends money wisely,” Mark Jolicoeur, P+W architect, said.
 
P+W’s goal was to create a Master Plan for Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools that could last the District 50+ years and would address education, infrastructure, technology, repair and maintenance needs. They were also tasked with developing a plan that the District could start implementing now based on the high schools most pressing concerns.
 
P+W presented the community with three approaches the District could take. Option A met select Tier 1 priorities identified by the study groups, option B met most of Tier 1 and Tier 2 priorities, and option C met all of Tier 1 and Tier 2 priorities as well as additional related Master Plan components. Architects also showed how the different options fit into the Long Range Facility Master Plan.  
 
In all options, architects identified building infrastructure as Deerfield and Highland Park High School’s largest hurdle. This component would address mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems, as well as improve accessibility, instructional technology, building security and exterior enclosures at both high schools.
 
“Industry experts state that the average life expectancy of a school’s mechanical equipment is 24 years old,” Jolicoeur said. “The average age at DHS is 34 years old with the oldest equipment at 53 years. The average age at HPHS is 24 years old with the oldest equipment at 72 years.”
 
In an attempt to get the most accurate cost estimates for these components, District 113 hired the construction management firm Gilbane to conduct analysis on pricing. According to Gilbane, the bulk of District 113’s expenses are going to go towards improving facility infrastructure. For example, the total cost for improving the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems at both high schools would cost a total of $45.5 million.

Other main components of P+W’s presentation included careful analysis of the Highland Park High School’s 100 year old B building, HPHS’s 100 year old C building, the Deerfield High School library, pools at both schools and a thorough analysis of the space needed to provide instruction in physical education at both schools.
 
A, B, and C options presented by P+W and priced out by Gilbane can be viewed on District 113’s website.
 
“Now it is up to the Board of Education to decide what to do,” Marjie Sandlow, longtime Highland Park resident and BOE member, said. “We need to continue to review all of these options in depth, figure out what we want to implement now if any, and decide how we are going to fund it.”
 
District 113 will hold a presentation on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7 p.m. at
Deerfield High School to update the community on what the Board of Education has decided.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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