First the bad news about Riverside-Brookfield High School, much of it reported in your pages: Last fall a state government inspection revealed leaking roofs, broken pavement (for example on the tennis courts), drainage problems and many other shortcomings that demand, according to Superintendent Kevin Skinkis, $12.5 million of repairs that come under the heading of life safety and must be corrected within the mandated timeframes.
Next, the good news: Also last fall, District 208, which consists only of RBHS, received an $8.9 million grant from the state to be used for facilities improvements and other needs.
More bad news: The District 208 Board of Education has come up with a wish list of its own. This includes a new football stadium with team locker rooms, new stadium lights, a new speaker system, a rubberized track, complete turf replacement of the eight-year-old artificial football field and the conversion of the practice field along Hollywood Avenue to a parking lot.
The total with the extras is not clear from the documents released by the District 208 Board of Education, but will add millions to the cost.
As a taxpayer I write to request that the Board of Education spend the $8.9 million grant from the state toward the $12.5 million of mandatory changes required by the state in their life safety report.
Doing only this still leaves the school district $3.6 million in the hole. Spending on the extras will increase the shortage to over $6 million or likely much more. Dr. Skinkis has repeatedly made the claim that making all of these facility improvements at once, when the stadium seating requires rebuilding to meet ADA requirements, is cost-effective.
It is only cost-effective if District 208 has the money, which at this time does not. Because of money problems at the high school, my family now pays close to $1,000 each year for my two daughters to play sports there. Academically average class sizes are now approaching 30 students. The school is in a financial predicament and must learn to spend money more wisely.
I believe if the District 208 Board of Education wants extras they should make their case and come to the people with a referendum.