Oak Brook School Board president sees urgency in Sports Core debate
About 150 residents showed up for a Dec. 10 village meeting about Butler Elementary District 53's interest in purchasing Sports Core property to build a new school. The Village Board meets Jan. 8 for further discussion and to make a decision. | Chuck Fie
Updated: February 25, 2013 2:20AM
OAK BROOK — Alan Hanzlik is in a hurry.
The president of the Butler Elementary District 53 School Board said there is an urgency in having decisions made to place referendums on the April 9 ballot that could pave the way for the building of a new school.
But some Oak Brook residents who spoke at a Dec. 10 meeting urged the Village Board to not rush into making a decision on a referendum to sell Sports Core property to District 53. Jan. 22 is the deadline for having referendums placed on the ballot.
The Village Board is scheduled to meet Jan. 8 for further discussion and to make a decision. Delaying a decision likely would take the idea off the table for a new school at the Sports Core, Hanzlik said.
“Some people want to delay this because they know a delay will kill it,” he said. “Our urgency with this is that it’s driven by interest rates.”
And if interest rates go up, that would mean the cost to taxpayers for a new school also would increase in the future, he said.
Hanzlik said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the Village Board approving its referendum.
“If they say no, they will have taken the decision away from the people, and that would be a huge mistake,” Hanzlik said.
Oak Brook Trustee Michael Manzo said the Village Board understands the urgency.
“If you’re for or against this, you should still be for the referendum,” Manzo said. “All approval of the referendum does is allow us to negotiate selling the property.”
Hanzlik said school officials would have plenty of work to do before April if the Village Board decides to go ahead with its referendum.
“We would go out and educate people,” he said. “There’s still a lot of key pieces of information people want, and we would be able to give that to them before April.”
Hanzlik also said the plan is good for the Sports Core, because it loses money and its long-term future is in jeopardy.
“This could potentially save the Sports Core,” he said. “The village has been subsidizing it for years. This can stabilize it for generations to come.”
The District 53 Board is interested in purchasing about eight acres of property from the village and building a kindergarten through eighth-grade school there. The district currently houses students at Butler Junior High and Brook Forest Elementary and is interested in selling those properties.
Two referendums would need to be approved to make a new school on Sports Core property a reality.
The first referendum, for all Oak Brook voters, would seek voter approval for the village to sell the Sports Core property to District 53.
The second referendum would ask District 53 residents to approve the sale of $15 million in bonds to help fund the building of a new school.