Education

District 233 preparing for upgrades to culinary, fashion, interior design programs

Plans for a proposed commercial kitchen to prepare students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School for work in the food service industry and new spaces for fashion design and interior design were presented to the District 233 Finance Committee at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Adding a new commercial kitchen will allow H-F High School to expand its culinary program to include more students, and better prepare them for careers in the industry. (Chronicle file photo)

The total cost for the upgrades and remodeling is estimated to be between $2.73 million and $3 million. The work will be in H-F’s North Building where those programs are based. The board recently sold $20 million in bonds for renovation and construction projects, including this work.

The expected timeline is for the school board to give its approval at the Aug. 16 board meeting and then seek bids for the work. It is anticipated the work can begin in January by converting some spaces in the building, but the major construction work would occur in June and July 2023. The facilities should be ready for the fall 2023 term.

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“It’s making old spaces new spaces again,” said Superintendent Scott Wakeley.

The projects have been under consideration for months, and will help H-F accommodate the increasing number of students in the culinary program. Some students have been forced onto a waiting list because of limited space. The changes will allow the culinary program to advance from the introductory cooking class into a program that will now be able to offer classes to prepare students for work after graduation. 

The biggest expense is the addition of the commercial kitchen. The equipment is budgeted at between $610,000 and $650,000. Architect Ed Wright of DLA Architects told the committee that supply chain issues may cause delays in getting some of the equipment. By moving forward now, Wright said the district would have a cushion on delivery time for the equipment.

The space will have movable furniture, overhead projectors to help students see what a teacher is demonstrating, and a better layout for work stations. A room for teaching, lectures and food preparation will connect the commercial kitchen to the residential kitchen space. Wright said because the space is just off the cafeteria, a “food truck” space is included for possible food sales from the commercial kitchen. The kitchens will have more storage, bigger coolers and washers/dryers available for cleanup of towels, etc.

The plan calls for using several spaces – a wrestling room no longer in use and a sewing room —for the culinary program. That allows the district to update fashion design and interior design spaces. Those new spaces will give fashion students better work space, a separate dressing room, more storage for both student projects and class materials, and an additional faculty office.

Ceilings will house electrical cords that can be drawn down for student use. Wright said it makes power more easily accessible and avoids digging up floors to install outlets and power lines.

The interior design space will have a lighting package that will give students options to discover what projects will look like during different times of the day and with different room lighting. 

Showcases facing the hallways will give students the chance to display projects.

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