In the coming weeks engineers and architects will be kicking the tires and checking under the hood, so to speak, at each of the five public education facilities in Forest Park. The scrutiny of District 91’s facilities is part of an inspection process done once every 10 years by the state board of education.

“They come and look at the whole building, inside and out,” Robert Laudadio, superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for District 91 said.

For an expected cost of $10,000 to $15,000, the school board will pay for the engineers to look over the facilities and issue a report listing any deficiencies. All five of the district’s schools will be inspected and Laudadio said he expects to have the completed report sometime next month. Any problems discovered will be prioritized as either “urgent,” “required” or “recommended.”

Deb Vespa is the division administrator for School Business and Support Services with the state board of education, which oversees the life safety program. Most commonly, facilities are cited for roofing repairs, ventilation systems and faulty windows, Vespa said. Some of these items can carry a significant price tag, Vespa said, but if a district is told that it must make changes, there is an obligation to find the money.

“They’re supposed to do it as quickly as possible and the regional superintendent is supposed to follow up,” Vespa said.

Neither Laudadio nor Superintendent Randy Tinder said they are expecting any big ticket surprises to come out of the inspection due in part to a fairly vigilant in-house inspection process.

“We really don’t expect anything substantial to come out of this,” Tinder said.

Ten years ago when the last inspection of its kind was conducted, the district was ordered to install additional doors as a fire safety measure, make some repairs to a playground structure and repair a roof, Laudadio said.

On an annual basis the regional superintendent does a less intensive inspection of each Forest Park school and Laudadio keeps an eye on maintenance needs daily. Over the summer he’s expecting to make repairs to the roof of the Betsy Ross Elementary School, to fix the sidewalk outside of Grant White and do some resurfacing of the playground area at Garfield. The cost of repairing the sidewalk will likely be shared with the village and the roofing project shouldn’t be too costly, Laudadio told school board members at the May 10 meeting.

Pending board approval, Laudadio said he also wants to look into installing security cameras outside of the middle school and installing a keyless entry system in all the buildings.

School board member resigns from municipal post

Among his first remarks as District 91's new school board president, Glenn Garlisch announced he will resign from his appointed seat on the municipal Fire and Police Commission.

Garlisch and four other board of education members were sworn in at the district's first board meeting since the April elections on May 10, and after receiving a unanimous vote to serve as president, said he will focus his attention on the schools. For more than five years, Garlisch has served as a member of the Forest Park Police and Fire Commission, which oversees hiring, promotions and termination in the village's two departments.

"Last year required a lot of time and energy and it was stressful," Garlisch said of the municipal body. "With what's happening with the school board … our schools are just the most important thing to me right now."

The commission made headlines most recently with the controversial termination hearings of a former lieutenant and former sergeant. Garlisch cast the lone vote not to terminate Sgt. Dan Harder in February and recused himself from hearing the case against Lt. Steve Johnsen, who resigned at the end of January. Johnsen had served with Garlisch on the school board.

The Fire and Police Commission's other members are Amy Rita and Brad Zandstra. The responsibility of appointing a third member falls with Mayor Anthony Calderone, who must bring his recommendation to the village council for approval. Calderone said has not made any decisions yet as to who might get the nod.

"It's going to take me every bit of at least 30 days to make that appointment," Calderone said."