Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 officials have released more detailed plans and cost estimates for the S.E. Gross Middle School portion of a proposed major renovation project that would add classrooms and gymnasiums to address spiking enrollment at both schools in the district.
According to figures submitted by the school district’s construction management firm, Executive Construction Inc., the renovations at S.E. Gross Middle School will cost roughly $5 million, which would keep the entire project cost in line with original estimates, at $35 million.
The more detailed plans for the renovation of S.E. Gross Middle School’s triangular north wing were unveiled for the public at a community forum held Oct. 4 at Brook Park School in LaGrange Park.
However, those plans weren’t seen by many members of the community. Between 30 and 40 people attended the forum, according to Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski.
Kuzniewski met last week with two members of the Brook Park Council, that school’s parent-teacher group, about forming a referendum committee to advocate for public funding of the planned renovations, which includes a 44,135-square-foot expansion of Brook Park.
While the district may hold at least one more community forum prior to a referendum vote planned in spring 2017, Kuzniewski said the referendum committee likely would focus on other avenues to get information to the public.
“We’re going to explore a different type of communications approach,’ Kuzniewski said.
The district is planning on asking voters to approve a $20 million bond issue.
The impact of a successful referendum on the owner of a home valued at $300,000 would be about $500 in additional property taxes per year, according to information provided by the school district.
The remaining $15 million would be paid by the district issuing alternate revenue bonds, which would not have a direct impact on homeowners’ tax bills. That debt would be paid using general operating funds.
Plans for the north wing of S.E. Gross Middle School indicate that workers will dig down about 30 inches from the present first-floor level in order to create the headroom needed to house a “cafetorium” – a combination cafeteria and auditorium – on the first floor.
Initially, district officials had hoped for a two-story cafetorium space, but the existing concrete floor of the second-floor auditorium made that level of renovation cost-prohibitive.
The cafetorium is now envisioned as a one-story space. That will allow for the construction of a new two-story band room above the cafetorium, along with a total of four large classrooms on the second and third floors.
Programming for the classroom spaces has not been finalized, though the size indicates that they would be used for elective programming, such as STEM classes, Kuzniewski said.
Alternately, the classrooms would be large enough to subdivide into more classroom space, if needed.
The second-floor gymnasium at S.E. Gross School will remain intact, according to the plans. It could be repurposed for classrooms in the future, if enrollment increases further. A new 15,109-square-foot gymnasium addition, including locker rooms, is planned to be built immediately west of the existing school on what is an asphalt playground/running track area.
The gymnasium would have its own entrance and would be able to be closed off to the rest of the school, so it can be used by the community after school hours.