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At a board of education meeting on Jan. 10, the Forest Park District 91 board of education unanimously approved an architectural firm’s repair recommendations as part of the state-mandated 10-year life safety survey for schools through Illinois. 

Board members Kimberlee Rostello, Christina Ricordati and Shannon Wood were absent from the meeting. 

Wight & Company, the district’s architecture firm, surveyed all D91 buildings, looking for anything that could impact the safety of students. The Darien-based firm determined every school was not in compliance with state standards, giving the district five years to make an estimated $300,000 worth of repairs. 

The money will come from D91’s fire prevention and safety fund, which currently has a balance of $765,726, according to a district memo. 

“We had a relatively short list, considering the number of buildings we had,” Assistant Superintendent Ed Brophy said at the meeting. “As was pointed out with how old they are, we do a very good job here maintaining our buildings, which definitely saves money over time. We don’t have to deal with crises, where all of a sudden we have to go to taxpayers and ask for a referendum for building improvements.”  

At Garfield Elementary School, the architecture firm estimated there would be $72,000 worth of repairs to the school’s equipment and boiler rooms, kitchen, work room and classroom. D91 must update the kitchen hood and sink, update the exhaust system in Garfield’s equipment and work rooms, install a better combustion system in the boiler room, and update the sink in the art room. 

At Grant-White Intermediate Elementary School, updates are estimated at $157,200, with repairs needed for the school’s kitchen, work room, gymnasium, janitor’s closet, office and basement. Work ranges from installing new kitchen hoods to updating the exhaust system in the janitor’s closet to providing sufficient combustion air for the boiler room. 

At Field-Stevenson Intermediate Elementary School, minor repairs are required at a cost of $34,800, to the food services area, office and art rooms. Repairs to Forest Park Middle School’s receiving and delivery room, art and art storage rooms, and science storage rooms are estimated at $36,000. 

There are no repair costs are expected for Betsy Ross Elementary School. 

Each cost estimate assumes that the district will have to use outside vendors to complete the work, and that D91 will need to competitively bid the work. 

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) still needs to approve the final report. Once ISBE officials approve the document, D91 will then more precisely identify the repair costs and timeline to complete the updates.   

“You do this cycle once a decade and codes can change in the span of 10 years,” Brophy said at the meeting. “We’re fortunate that, while code has changed, there’s not a lot significantly that has changed. So it’s just changes to recent things to come into compliance.”

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com