As Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 officials begin to decide just how to integrate new technology into their two schools, the electrical infrastructure at both Brook Park and S.E. Gross schools are due for a major upgrade next year in order to accommodate whatever technology plan is eventually adopted.

Earlier this month, the District 95 board gave the go-ahead for the district’s architectural firm, Cashman Stahler Group, to develop bid specifications for a project estimated to cost a little more than $1 million.

The major components of the project include upgrading the electrical capacity at S.E. Gross Middle School and improving the infrastructure that distributes electricity at both S.E. Gross and Brook Park. The electrical capacity of Brook Park School was improved during a 2008 expansion/renovation there.

Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski
said last week that bid specifications should be complete later this fall, with a bid opening in mid-January.

“We have purposely picked this time frame because the best time to attract bidders is at the beginning of the year,” said Kuzniewski.

Work, particularly the outside work that would involve upgrading electrical service from the street to S.E. Gross Middle School, could begin during spring break 2014, said Kuzniewski. Work inside each school to install the distribution panels at both schools and build out a new electrical room at S.E. Gross can be completed during the summer.

Just how that new electrical capacity will be delivered throughout classrooms has yet to be decided. But in order to introduce equipment such as smart boards into classroom, the electrical service needs to be upgraded. Once that’s done, the school board can determine how to introduce that technology and what that might mean in terms of remodeling classrooms.

“This allows for the board to consider how to send electricity to the classrooms,” said Kuzniewski. “By the end of summer, we’ll have the electrical service we need. Does that mean we will renovate classrooms? There are a number of different options in the infancy stage of being discussed. All of that is predicated on the idea that we want to get technology infused into the classrooms, but the reality of it is we have no electric to plug it into.”

At S.E. Gross, for example, the electrical system is so overtaxed now that circuits blow with some regularity, said Kuzniewski. Much of the wiring in the building is old, cloth-insulated wiring. Outlets are scarce in classrooms and not all of them work.

The work will be paid for through money in the district’s operations and maintenance fund, which received a $3.1 million infusion of cash this spring when the Illinois Community Development Board awarded D95 a capital improvement grant that it had applied for back in 2003.

“The grant funding is what’s allowing us to do this,” said Kuzniewski.

LADSE program at S.E. Gross School

The LaGrange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE) will rent a classroom at S.E. Gross Middle School for at least the next five years to house a cross-categorical program serving students with profound disabilities.

 

Located on the ground floor of the school, the classroom was formerly converted into office space for Cathy Cannon, the district’s director of teaching and learning. Now she and Jeannie Zeitlin, who is the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction services, have moved to the second floor of S.E. Gross School, into an area that formerly was the principal’s office. That space has been underutilized since the school was renovated in 2008.

 

LADSE contributed $50,000 to prepare the second-floor office space for the District 95 administrators and for their first-floor classroom. In addition, LADSE will be paying D95 between $15,000 and $18,000 annually in rent, depending on how many students are enrolled in the program at S.E. Gross, said Kuzniewski.

 

And Zeitlin’s former office, which was located on the first floor, will become the new electrical service room, which is necessary to accommodate the proposed electrical upgrade at S.E. Gross.

 

This spring, LADSE and D95 signed an intergovernmental agreement, allowing for the special education program to be housed in the middle school. Kuzniewski was aware of LADSE’s need for a classroom because he served on the space subcommittee of the LADSE board of directors, tasked with coming up with a solution.

 

LADSE had explored other options, including renting space at Mater Christi School in North Riverside, but those options were too expensive, said Kuzniewski.

 

“LADSE’s cost is significantly less than what it would have paid in the other options,” he said.