Oak Park River

Facilities Master Plan Recommendations

Imagine Facilities Project 1 Approved
On Dec. 20, 2018, the Board of Education approved moving forward with designing the first construction project to result from the Imagine OPRF facilities master-planning process. Imagine Facilities Project 1 includes renovation/construction of 76 general education classrooms, learning spaces for the Special Education TEAM (Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream) program, first phase of a student commons, a student resource center, all-gender restrooms, and more. The total estimated project cost is $32,631,500. Funding will come from existing cash reserves, thereby avoiding a tax increase to property owners and preserving the district’s debt-free status.
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Nov. 15, 2018, Board of education meeting:
Imagine OPRF Makes Its Recommendations to the Board

On Nov. 15, 2018, the Imagine OPRF Work Group made its recommendations to the Board for a long-term facilities master plan; the Board accepted those recommendations. Note that accepting the plan is different from approving the plan. By accepting the long-term facilities master plan, the Board accepted the identified facility needs. It did not, however, make any financial commitment.

Now that it has been accepted, the facilities master plan belongs to the Board of Education, which has the latitude to decide what, if any, portion of the plan to implement and when, along with how to fund that portion of work. The Board plans to discuss these topics at its Dec. 11, 2018, Committee of the Whole meeting and its Dec. 20, 2018, regular meeting, both of which are open to the public.

It's important to note that a master plan is not a construction project, where design and financing of every portion is done at the start. Instead, a master plan is a living document that should be reviewed and modified every few years as the impact of early projects is assessed, school needs change, and funding becomes available.

To see the recommendations and documents presented to the Board on Nov. 15, 2018, click the links below:

Oct. 30, 2018, Board of education town hall

More than 250 people attended this public forum, which offered the opportunity to give public comment and ask questions about the draft facilities master plan. The town hall was streamed on Facebook Live. To watch the video of the meeting, click the links below:

Oct. 25, 2018, Board of education meeting

The agenda for this month's regular Board meeting included several items related to the draft facilities master plan. (Click here to see the agenda.) Board meetings normally are only audio-recorded, but given the level of community interest in this topic, we also videotaped this meeting. Click here to watch it.

Oct. 3, 2018, community conversation

About 100 community members attended the presentation and question-and-answer session on the draft concept for a facilities master plan, proposed sequencing, and estimated costs. We received roughly 90 questions via index cards during the session and will be posting answers as soon as we reasonably can. In the meantime, click links below for some information shared during the session:

Presented to the Board of Education Sept. 11, 2018

On September 11, 2018, the Imagine OPRF Work Group and the District 200 Board of Education held a working session at which the Imagine Team presented a first draft of its facilities master plan for Board discussion, questions, and feedback. The documents discussed at that working session, along with some context for each, are below.

Watch To see the video of the presentation and community comments, click the links below:


The community-led Imagine OPRF team has been working since August 2017 to assess facilities needs at Oak Park and River Forest High School, and to develop a long-range facilities master plan that will meet those needs now and in the future. 

The linked documents comprise a draft of the facilities master plan that the Imagine team will present to the District 200 Board of Education in November 2018, subject to additional input from Board members and the community.  It is a consolidated plan that combines features from both of the concepts Imagine shared with the Board in June 2018 and incorporates Board members’ feedback from that working session. 

I. The Imagine Process

Throughout a year of research and planning, the Imagine team has put students and their learning at the center of our work, has been rigorous and needs-driven, and has paid careful attention to equity.

Student Learning at the Center
Students and their learning needs are the foundation of everything Imagine has done.  All OPRF students should be learning in spaces that are safe, accessible, and conducive to student health.  Students should be learning in technology-rich environments that fully support student-centered learning and provide teachers the flexibility to tailor teaching to student needs. Facilities should be sufficiently updated to ensure that students are adequately prepared for the next level, whether that be career or college.  Facilities should enable collaboration among students and provide for learning inside and outside of the classroom and outside of school hours. Facilities should support the whole student with appropriate spaces for a full range of extracurricular activities, easy access to student support services, support for social and emotional growth, and consideration of diverse learning styles and needs so all students are supported in meeting their highest potential.

A Rigorous, Needs-Driven Process
It is not surprising that Imagine found a multitude of facilities problems in such a large building, built in sections from 50 to 120 years ago.   The team spent six months collecting data about the use and adequacy of OPRF’s facilities, in addition to reviewing professional research and visiting comparable  area schools. Data collection methods were thorough, detailed, and diverse, including a student survey, faculty and staff surveys, listening sessions with students, listening sessions and interviews with faculty and staff, tours of OPRF’s facilities, tours of other area schools, several community engagement sessions to gather public input, and consultation with architects and construction consultants engaged by District 200. The resulting list of facilities problems is long.

Imagine spent the next six months working to prioritize the identified problems and to understand how the most important ones could be addressed in a long-term master plan within the constraints of the school’s physical space, the District’s other priorities, and the community’s financial concerns.  Architectural renderings of how solutions to identified problems could--or could not--fit together, and public response to those renderings, helped Imagine pare down our list of needs to be addressed and forced us to set aside some of what we imagined.  So the attached plan does not propose the construction of a much-needed outdoor track, it does not include a new space for the popular ceramics program, it does not include an entirely new classroom wing, it does not undertake renovations of the Little Theatre or Auditorium.  Instead, it addresses the most physically urgent problems, prioritizes student learning and safety, touches spaces used by the most students, emphasizes flexibility and multiple uses, and invests in making the building welcoming and accessible to all students.

Attention to Equity
Imagine’s inaugural meeting in August 2017 included adoption of an equity statement to guide our work.  As individuals and as a Team, we have sought to consider the impacts of facilities on equity at every stage of our work.  We asked students--in surveys and listening sessions--about how facilities impacted equity at OPRF, and we listened carefully to their answers.  We asked faculty and staff about the same issues. We observed interactions inside the building and at peer schools.  And we challenged each other to be sure we were thinking about and prioritizing equity.

Imagine considered equity and inequity along several overlapping dimensions, including race, ability, gender, sex, and ethnicity, but also extending to other frequently marginalized groups who often feel unwelcome or not included.  The components of the master plan address equity issues in ways that are self-evident: adding elevators and removing barriers to improve ADA accessibility, designing facilities to meet the needs of students in the TEAM program, and creating all-gender bathrooms and locker rooms, for example.  Other plan components address equity in ways that may not be immediately clear: the new indoor track will benefit the extracurricular activity with the most students of color, upgraded arts facilities provide safe spaces for students from frequently marginalized groups, facilities that improve access to on-campus resources--from printers to sound recording technology to spaces for quiet study or group work--help mitigate inequities at home, spaces created for collaboration and socializing will help address students’ concerns that the school doesn’t want them there, expanded gym and locker room facilities will alleviate concerns about gender equity for athletic teams, and a new school entrance will enhance security while making all students feel welcome.

Facilities alone cannot bring about equity at OPRF, but they literally shape what happens inside them. Facilities play a central role in how materials can be taught in classrooms, how security policies can be designed for public areas, and how students interact in the lunchroom, the library, and the common areas.  Facilities are a key factor in how students experience their school and how welcome they feel in it. Well-designed facilities can have a profound impact on those who use them.  Imagine seeks to create a school that is accessible and welcoming to all students and that removes facilities barriers to equity.

II.  Facilities Needs Assessment

During the June 26, 2018, Imagine-BOE Working Session, several Board members requested additional information about how Imagine assessed the needs addressed in the master plan.  The Imagine Facilities Needs Overview includes detailed descriptions of needs assessments for facilities throughout the building.  This is a draft document, the final version of which will be provided to the Board with Imagine’s recommendation in November.  That said, this draft provides a great deal of information about the rigorous needs assessment that is the foundation of Imagine’s facilities recommendations.

III.  Draft Master Plan in Five Sequences

The District 200 Board of Education tasked the Imagine OPRF working group with developing a long-term facilities master plan. A facilities master plan identifies and prioritizes facilities needs, and provides a framework for efficiently addressing these needs over time. The master plan presented in these documents addresses those facilities needs the Imagine team deemed of high enough importance to warrant the attention and resources of the Board, administration, faculty, and community.

The master plan is presented in five separate sequences (or stages). These sequences demonstrate one possible order in which “the dominoes must fall” in order to address all the identified needs. The order of the sequences has been determined by a number of factors including physical urgency of facilities, Imagine prioritization, impact of construction on students, benefits of completed spaces on students, and constructability.  It would be wrong to assume that components addressed in later sequences are less important to this unified master plan than components addressed earlier.

The relevant documents include a narrative Master Plan Sequence Overview, diagrams of each of the five sequences (Sequence 1, Sequence 2, Sequence 3, Sequence 4, Sequence 5), and a table comparing facilities before and after each sequence.

IV.  Potential Design/Bidding/Construction Timing 

The five sequences included in the master plan allow the entire plan to be implemented flexibly over a six- to 10-year period.  The sequences are designed to enable the school to function during construction, to have facilities reasonably whole during periods between sequences, and to allow pauses between some sequences to give students, faculty, and staff respite between construction projects.  Eventual decisions about how quickly the sequences are implemented will need to take into account the impact on the users and the financing strategies.

The Potential Implementation Schedules chart  represents three possible strategies for completing all five sequence within a six-year time frame, an eight-year time frame, and a 10-year time frame.  These are intended to illustrate options and there is flexibility within each strategy.

V. Cost Estimates for Sequences 1-5** 

A facilities master plan is a long-term road map to guide current and future projects and to help ensure that funds are invested wisely and efficiently.  A facilities master plan is a living document, updated regularly as the facility ages, is renewed through renovation, and as use of the facility evolves.

As part of the facilities master Imagine will recommend in November, Imagine is providing information for a construction plan for each sequence** of the master plan. A capital construction plan describes the costs, scope, and timelines for specific building projects.

In November, Imagine will recommend that the current Board adopt the proposed master plan as a statement of the district’s intentions to complete all five sequences within a given time frame.  However, specific capital spending decisions for the latter sequences are better made after the impact of the initial work can be assessed. As the OPRFHS facility ages further, and uses continue to evolve, priorities may shift over the course of completion of the first sequences.

The relevant documents include detailed cost estimates for construction plans for sequences 1, 2, 3, 4,* and 5,* more detailed line-item cost estimates,**  and a brief explanation of how these cost estimates were developed. At the Sept. 11 session, the Board received a presentation on financial considerations as it begins to consider how to fund a facilities master plan.

The estimated costs are substantial--as are the problems being addressed in the facilities master plan.

*Cost estimates for sequences 4 and 5 were made publicly available Oct. 23, 2018.

**Detailed line-item cost estimates for sequences 1, 2, and 3 were posted Oct. 4, 2018, to provide additional information about detailed construction cost estimates that some community members have requested. Detailed line-item cost estimates for sequences 4 and 5 were made publicly available Oct. 23, 2018.