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2016 Referendum Background

Referendum result

According to the certified results from the Cook County Board of Elections, out of 35,676 ballots cast, those opposed to the bond issue prevailed by a margin of 28 votes, or 0.08%.

Ballot question

The Nov. 8, 2016, ballot question reads as follows:

Shall the Board of Education of Oak Park and River Forest Consolidated High School District Number 200, Cook County, Illinois, build and equip a swimming pool addition to replace the existing 88-year-old swimming pools at the Oak Park and River Forest High School Building; alter, repair and equip said School Building to improve the learning, performing arts and locker room spaces therein; improve the site thereof; build and equip a parking garage to replace the existing parking garage; and issue bonds of said School District in an amount not to exceed $25,000,000 for the purpose of paying costs thereof?

Board approves pool and facility plan

At a special meeting on Mon., Aug. 1, 2016, the Board of Education took action to adopt a five-year pool and facilities plan. After much consideration and community input, the Board approved a motion to adopt Plan B. This plan calls for replacing the crumbling pools with a new 40-meter pool and garage on the site of the current garage. It also adds classrooms to accommodate a more than 20% growth in performing arts class enrollment, renovates locker rooms to mitigate health and safety issues, and improves learning spaces. (Click here for a chart that summarizes plan B in comparison to the other two options that were considered). The Board also directed the administration and Legat Architects to present the Board with a revised plan B that brings the cost down by roughly 15%, to no more than $45 million.

The Board has scheduled a special meeting on Aug. 16, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room, to approve a revised plan and as well as a funding structure. As has been previously announced, the Board intends to pay for the project with a combination of $20 million in cash and the remainder from a bond issue. At its Aug. 16 meeting, the Board will approve a referendum question to be placed on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot, seeking the community’s approval for the bond issue.

Determining pool options

Oak Park and River Forest High School currently has two swimming pools, which were built in 1928. The normal lifespan of a pool is 40 to 50 years, and at 90 years old, the OPRF pools suffer from a host of serious issues. Neither of the pools meets current design safety, competition, or spectator standards, and both structures have significant structural and mechanical deficits. Together, the pools leak 3,000 gallons of water a day and are at risk of developing issues that would render them permanently inoperable. The Board has been seeking community input about pool and long term facility options and costs and is considering a referendum for the November 8, 2016, election. The deadline for submitting a resolution for that election is August 22, 2016. 

A focused effort to determine what to do about the pools has been ongoing since 2012, when the district hired a consulting firm to advise whether to modify the current pools or completely replace them. In spring 2013, the Board was presented with the recommendation that a new pool would best meet instructional, competition, and community needs. Internal pool committees then worked to determine the appropriate size of a new pool, analyze potential sites, and estimate costs.

In September 2014, the Board sought input by appointing a 17-member committee of stakeholders, more than half of them community members, to study the issue. The committee made its recommendation in early 2015, and after further research and consideration, the Board approved constructing a 50-meter pool on the site where the parking garage currently is located, at Scoville Avenue and Lake Street. The Board proposed financing the project with a combination of existing funds and bonds. 

Community Feedback

The community voiced significant concerns about the approved project’s cost, funding, and parking plan. In response, the Board asked Legat Architects for additional options, including drawings and cost estimates. The Board also worked with the Park District of Oak Park on its feasibility study for a community center that could possibly include a pool. However, the park district found that because the needs of a high school competition pool and a community recreational pool differ so significantly, meeting them both with one pool would be difficult.

Legat prepared three additional pool options:

  • To see renderings of all four options, click here

  • To see a comparison chart of the options, click here.

Independent cost estimator CCS provided projected costs for the options, which then were presented for feedback and questions to more than 350 residents at April 2016 community engagement meetings. One of the key findings was that attendees wanted to know how the pool fits into overall facility plans.

  • To see the report on the meetings, click here

Long-term facility planning

Concurrent with the pool discussions, the district’s Long Term Facilities Planning Committee has been developing a five-year plan to address facility needs, the most critical of which is replacing the pools. As a result, pool designs have been incorporated into three long term facility plan (LTFP) options. The overall needs addressed by each plan are the same. Variations in the three plans, particularly cost and the amount of space available for repurposing, are driven by the significantly different pool designs.

  • To see the architect's report with renderings of the three long term facility plans, click here.

  • To see a chart comparing the three long term facility plan options, click here.

  • To view the community-meeting presentation on the options, click here.