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Imagine OPRF moves toward master plan

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

March 6th, 2018 3:19 PM

Thank you to the 100-plus community members who participated in last week's Imagine OPRF Community Conversation! After six months of deep, intensive research into the high school's facility needs, the 40 Imagine OPRF team members were excited to share our findings with you. The small-group dialogues and dozens of one-on-one conversations provided us with lots of quality feedback that will be invaluable as the Imagine team works toward our goal of recommending a facilities master plan to the board this summer.

As participants in the conversations learned, our vintage high school has served Oak Park and River Forest remarkably well since it was first built more than a century ago. Over the past 15 years, the community's support has allowed the district to invest in critical infrastructure needs, such as replacing the roof, installing new boilers and HVAC control systems, tuckpointing the exterior, updating plumbing and wiring, and improving lighting. The inner workings of the building are now so sound that the school received a 2013 Energy Star Rating for energy efficiency.

With a solid infrastructure in place, the time has come to look critically at how the facilities are — or are not — serving the needs of the academic program. The OPRF campus was constructed in 14 stages, starting in 1907 and ending with the last major addition built in 1967. A hard-working and passionate faculty has done an amazing job of working within the constraints of classrooms that were built for teaching in another era.  But in 2018, a host of facilities issues impede the ability to fully engage in today's student-centered, collaborative teaching and learning: Non-compliance with ADA accessibility requirements, cramped classrooms, and a lack of technology and equipment that will thoroughly prepare students for college and career are just a few of them.

To watch video of last week's event and learn more about the facilities and the Imagine OPRF project, visit ImagineOPRF.org. And be sure to mark your calendar for the next community conversation on April 16 at 7 p.m. in the OPRF South Cafeteria. We'll be sharing a first look at potential options for a facilities master plan, and we'll be eager to hear your input.

Lynn Kamenitsa and Mike Poirier

Imagine OPRF co-chairs