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D233 board hears proposal for H-F High additions, remodeling

Homewood-Flossmoor High School may undergo a multi-million dollar construction project in the 2018-19 school year that will add two new spaces to the South Building and remodel interior space.
 
The District 233 school board heard proposals for a black box theater, improvements to the music area and classrooms that would benefit the Media, Visual Arts and Performing Arts (MVP) Academy. Constructing two new spaces at the north and south ends of the Mall Auditorium will free up a wing of classrooms for the Applied Academics program that needs space to grow.
 
The board shared the initial plans with residents at its Tuesday meeting. The construction and remodeling could cost between $11 million and $16 million, depending on which plans the board approves. The district would transfer money from the reserve fund to a site construction fund. It is expected the district will replenish its reserve fund in about five years, said Business Manager Ken Parchem. 
 
Edward L. Wright of DLA Ltd. Architects shared basic concepts with the board. He said the proposal is before the board because of the growth in programs at H-F. He likened it to the field house, which is primarily for physical education and sports, but has found numerous uses for H-F programming.
 
The work on the South Building will prove just as useful, he said, because of the numerous activities and programs the school provides in the arts.
 
The plan has four major components: 
 
  • Construction of a black box theater, at the northwest corner of the South Building, that will double the space for theater programs, create a props space and dressing room
  • A remodeling of the music program space
  • Construction of a student art gallery, classrooms, 2-D and 3-D studios and office space south of the Mall Auditorium
  • Remodeling space vacated by the arts programs for use by Applied Academics programs
 
Wright said DLA staff has met with students, faculty, administrators and school board members for the past several months. Now the board will spend the next several months fine-tuning the plans to fit student and program needs.
 
The timetable calls for site development in March or April 2018 with bids awarded in September 2018 so that foundations can be laid in late fall. The spaces should be ready for students in September 2019.
 
H-F approved the MVP Academy in January 2016. The idea was first presented in 2011 and the school board studied various options for years before agreeing to establish the special curriculum.
 
Later this school year, juniors will officially enroll in the MVP curriculum so that they can complete the “Comparative and Collaborative Arts Seminar” as seniors. Students from all art genres will be in the class. Teacher J.R. Rose, one of the MVP faculty, said students will use the black box space to create their projects.
 
The second benefit to the plan is giving Applied Academics space to grow. Applied Academics Department Chair Kevin Thomas said the successes of the department’s programs, including Project Lead The Way, manufacturing, mechanics and other programs, has been phenomenal.
 
What in the 1960s at H-F were called vocational programs today are Applied Academics, Thomas explained. He said H-F is to be commended for its commitment to these programs over the years and its initiatives to change to meet the needs of industry. 
 
“We have the students, we have the staff, we have the willingness to provide for our students a career in manufacturing and the trades that’s unrivaled. We give our students the skills to take them to the next place.”
 
One thing holding the program back is space.
 
“Our labs are great, but they are packed,” he told the board.
 

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