News Flash

Village of Park Forest - Top Story News

Posted on: June 20, 2019

District 227 considering closure of Rich East, other options to address deterioration, student body

Rich East High School

Park Forest’s Rich East High School could be closing.  

Tuesday evening, District 227 board members considered options for remedying the district’s deteriorating buildings and a student body district officials say no longer warrants three high schools.

District 227 plans to hold community forums over the next month to hear from residents on how to best address the issues. Options considered include school closings, mergers, repairs to all three buildings, or the purchase of a new facility to house all district students.

“If we do nothing and continue to try to staff all of the schools and make repairs out of operating dollars, then we’ll see declines in revenues, increases in expenditures and declines in fund balances,” Dr. Alicia Evans, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations for District 227, said.

Evans presented six options to district board members Monday night. The least expensive of the options calls for the purchase of a new building and the partial renovation on an existing building for an estimated $105 million. The most expensive of the options calls for repairing and improving all three Rich Township high schools for an estimated $399 million.

The full list of options presented by District 227 include:

1. Repair all of the buildings
Estimated cost: $169.6 million

2. Repair and upgrade all of the buildings
Estimated cost: $399

3. Upgrade two schools and eliminate one
Estimated cost: $241.6 - $285

4. Build a new facility on an existing site to house the full student body
Estimated cost: $367 million

5. Build a new facility on existing site and upgrade one facility
Estimated cost: $288.2 million

6. Purchase a facility and partially renovate an existing facility
Estimated cost: $105.6 million

District officials say although six options are being considered, public input could increase the choices.

“These are true options that we’re looking at that we want to ask the community more about in the future,” Evans said.

Community forums begin June 20 at Rich South High School and continue through July 9.  Forums are set for:

June 20 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Rich South High School
5000 Sauk Trail
Richton Park, Il 60471

June 29 from 10 to 11 a.m.
District 227 office
20550 S. Cicero Ave.
Matteson, IL 60443

July 2 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Rich East High School
3000 Sauk Trail
Park Forest, IL 60466

July 9 from 1 to 2 p.m.
District 227 office
20550 S. Cicero Ave.
Matteson, IL 60443

July 9 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Rich Central High School
3600 203rd St.
Olympia Fields, IL 60461

Park Forest’s Rich East, first opened in 1952, is the district’s oldest high school.

District officials say the estimated cost to replace Rich East is $42.7 million while the estimated cost to simply make repairs to the building – not including any upgrades past repairs – is $59.9 million.

The district’s other high schools, Olympia Fields’ Rich Central, opened in 1962, and Richton Park’s Rich South, opened in 1971, also need repairs, officials say. Rich Central needs an estimated $39 million in repairs and Rich South needs an estimated $32.6 million in repairs, Evans said.  

District 227 estimates an increase to resident tax bills of just under one hundred dollars or up to $2,000 depending on the option selected and where residents reside.  

Though the district says all three high schools remaining open is an option, board members admit an important factor is the district’s student body of 3,000.  

“Student wise, we don’t have enough for three buildings,” board member Cheryl Coleman said.

The school district hopes to make a decision shortly after the community forums conclude with a timeline for construction for the yet to be determined plan to be 2021-2025.  

“At some point a decision will need to be made and actions will need to be taken,” Evans said.  

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