Decision time nears on District 53 schools in Oak Brook
Brook Forest Elementary School (pictured) and Butler Junior High would be closed if the Butler Elementary District 53 Board is able to complete its desire to build a new school at the Sports Core. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 12, 2012 1:29AM
OAK BROOK — It will ultimately be up to the community to decide whether to combine buildings in District 53.
“That’s true,” Superintendent Sandra Martin said. “We are getting information about different options and will share all of it with the community.”
The district has two school buildings and officials are eyeing combining them into a single campus.
In June, the board approved a $28,000 contract with FGM Architects to develop a master facility plan.
The facilities future will be discussed at community meetings in November as well as at general community meetings scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Oak Brook Public Library, 600 Oak Brook Road; and 9:30 a.m. Sept. 28 at Butler Junior High, 2801 York Road.
Changing to a one-campus district at what is now Butler Junior High is one option. If that happens, Brook Forest Elementary, 60 Regent Drive, no longer would be used as a school. Brook Forest is not a practical option for use as a single-campus district, said board President Alan Hanzlik.
“The site itself isn’t really good, and it’s 8 ½ acres, while Butler Junior High is 11 ½ acres,” Hanzlik said.
The district could add on to Butler and make it a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, tear down the existing building and start from scratch, or renovate both existing buildings on their own sites.
“You don’t want to go year to year, putting money into structures without a master plan,” Hanzlik said. “You can continue to do that, but some time within the next 10 years a major expenditure is going to be necessary.”
Hanzlik said tearing down Butler would be considerably more expensive than a renovation and addition to the existing building. Results of a cost analysis will be part of the November community meetings, Hanzlik said.
“I think one campus would be the right decision for the community,” he said. “We’ve been putting money aside to invest in our buildings.”
Hanzlik said because of low interest rates this would be a good time for the district to take a loan to cover any additional costs of a renovation/addition.
“We can self-fund a loan without a tax impact on our taxpayers,” he said. “I think we’d probably only have to seek additional money from taxpayers if the community wanted a brand-new school.”
Hanzlik said there are both educational and cost advantages to operating a single school.
“If you keep two structures, it doesn’t give you the cost energies,” he said. “There also are many things, educationally, that can be shared in one building.”