FAQ from April 2018

Thanks to all who provided the many thoughtful comments, suggestions, and questions we received following the April 16 Community Conversation.   All of your feedback will help us refine the facilities concepts we will present at the next Community Meetings on May 19 and 21.  We encourage your continued participation and appreciate your support. Below are some of the questions that community members asked most frequently at the April 16 meeting and on their feedback forms.

Why wasn’t any cost information provided at Community Conversation?
The Imagine OPRF Work Group does not yet have cost estimates for any of the concepts we are considering. That is by design. Imagine is undertaking a programmatic planning process where the team assesses all facilities needs, looks at conceptual ways of addressing those needs, and only then begins costing out and prioritizing specific elements of those concepts.

This does not mean the project has no financial limits. It means that this early in the process we don’t ignore real challenges because of assumptions that they would be too expensive to address. This approach makes sense for a master planning process. It helps us identify needs and potential solutions for the long term while also helping to avoid the risk of seizing on lower cost temporary solutions that would need to be redone later to address larger, long-term needs.

How will costs be estimated?
While it's been suggested that the district have architects use generic software to estimate context-specific costs, this would not be a responsible choice. OPRF has hired International Contractors, Inc. (ICI), a firm that specializes in providing accurate costing and input on potential cost savings for school construction in the region. As Imagine works on the details of the master plan, ICI will provide accurate and professional cost estimates that take into account OPRF’s specific challenges, staging and sequencing issues, and regional markets. 

What is the time frame for the work Imagine is outlining?
The concepts Imagine is considering would be part of a long-term master plan. Construction of master plan components would likely be completed in several projects spread out over at least 10 years. In turn, costs would also be spread out over a similar time frame.

How will the school maintain programming, such as Physical Education, during construction?
During Imagine visits to other schools, we learned about a variety of methods to keep schools functioning during significant renovation and construction projects. Our construction consultant, International Contractors, Inc. (ICI), and our consulting architects, Perkins + Will, have professional experience in planning work in stages to minimize disruption. The sequencing must take into account multiple factors, including, to name a few, student learning, infrastructure considerations, component priorities, financing and cost, temporary relocation options for some programming, food service requirements, and the need to move certain components first because others will be constructed in their place. The professionals working with Imagine will guide us through this process based on their experience with scores of other schools who have been through this process.

Why didn’t the April 16 conceptual diagrams include dimensions for specific elements?
The diagrams represented concepts that Imagine members are considering.  The goal is to explore and get public feedback about general locations and ways of organizing such components.  The blocks of color on the diagrams do not represent agreed-upon dimensions for any element.  That holds true for the library and the Special Education Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream (TEAM) space, as well as the pool, the locker rooms, and most other spaces. Indeed, the Imagine Group has not yet established the dimensions of a right-sized pool for the school.

Why did all concepts for the south area leave the existing parking garage intact?
Imagine is exploring ways to accommodate the school’s educational needs without expanding the footprint to the south. Parking is always a point of intense debate in Oak Park, and we did not want the master planning process to get bogged down in discussions about a specific parking structure.

Why did all concepts for the central area show one large cafeteria? 
At this stage, the conceptual diagrams were intended to show general location and approximate size, so detail about how a cafeteria space would be configured was not included on the diagrams. During visits to other area high schools, Imagine Group members saw several techniques used to make large cafeteria spaces seem smaller and more welcoming to students, including the use of half walls and break-out dining areas to break up large spaces. Similar techniques will be discussed during our ongoing planning process.

Why did the tours focus primarily on needs rather than on assets of the OPRF facilities?
The public tours Imagine Group members gave on April 14 and 16 were designed to highlight challenges and needs that our research has uncovered. Our tours also highlighted several opportunities that facilities present to build upon existing assets and make more efficient use of existing spaces to better serve our students. That said, we intend to offer tours on future dates, and will consider the feasibility of expanding the number of spaces included on the tour.