With the passage of an operations referendum on April 4, Oak Park Elementary School District 97 officials are preparing for an expansion project at Holmes School, 508 N. Kenilworth Ave., which would require the installation of temporary mobile classrooms for the 2017-18 school year. Construction is scheduled to begin during the summer of 2018.
The $4.9 million expansion project, which the school board approved last July, will include construction of five additional classrooms and renovations to existing classrooms in order to accommodate for an increase in the student population.
District officials have explained that the enrollment spike is due to the new high-rise developments, such as the 21-story Vantage Oak Park, that have been going up on and around Lake Street in recent years.
District officials are still collecting price quotes and figuring out where to put the mobile classrooms. They're planning on leasing a two-classroom mobile unit that would be used during the 2017-18 school year.
So far, they've identified two feasible location options, which are both west of the existing school building. Option 1 is right off of Chicago Avenue while Option 2 is further north.
The units will need to be connected to the fire alarm system inside of Holmes School and to the power that serves the building. Village code doesn't require the mobile units to have toilets, but if district officials choose to provide them anyway, they would also need to connect them to existing water and sanitary sewer service. Those connections would need to be approved by both the village of Oak Park and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
The mobile units will also need to go through the village's zoning review process, which district officials are still researching.
Dr. Alicia Evans, the district's assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said that the district's Facilities Advisory Committee prefers Option 2 and recommends that board members go out and look at some of the mobile units for themselves before they authorize a purchase.
Evans said that the district had originally thought that the units would be only for two fifth-grade classes, but that officials have reconsidered this idea and are thinking about how the units could be utilized by more than one grade level.
According to price quotes the district has obtained so far, a roughly 28-by-68-foot, two-classroom unit without plumbing would cost $2,367 per month with a 12-month operating lease. Additional charges for delivering and installing the mobile unit could amount to roughly $93,000. Charges for dismantling and returning the unit weren't included in the quotes.
In addition, those costs wouldn't include other work that would be done by other companies, such as landscaping, excavation and grading.
Evans said that she should have a firm recommendation, along with more concrete price points, for the board to consider by April 26.