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Local News

Village trustee candidates discuss building a new school in Oak Brook

OAK BROOK — Six Oak Brook village trustee candidates took part in a round table discussion Thursday night to give opinions and field audience questions in regards to building a new school in Oak Brook on the Sports Core property.

The candidates included Phil Cuevas, John Baar, William Denton, Steve Young, Don Adler and Mark Moy.

Representing District 53 in the proposal was School Board President Alan Hanzlik, who said there were several options the school board looked at before arriving at its decision to ask voters for a new school, but cost and available property were not adding up.

"Remodeling an existing building would cost us $48.7 million, while the cost to build a new school would be $47.2 million," Hanzlik said.

The proposal now is to get rid of the Butler and Brook Forest school and design a new kindergarten through eighth grade school on 8.5 acres of land. This comes after a life safety report revealed several maintenance and structural issues with the two existing schools.

"You can do a lot more with a new school than you can with two old schools," he said. "We also believe we can significantly improve security more with a new school."

Candidate Denton said he supported the idea of having one school, but questioned Hanzlik on the "rush" to build a new school.

"I absolutely endorse one school for the village," Denton said. "But the timing is out of whack. There's too much fluidness in the plan and it's too early."

Hanzlik disagreed.

"We totally disagree with that because by approving in April it does not suggest it's a done deal," he said. "It goes to the village and they say if it's a done deal."

Hanzlik also said the school board was in a hurry because of interest rates. If that goes up, the cost to construct the school would go up and may not be feasible.

Candidate Moy said he supported the plan to build a new school.

"I think this new school will go a long way towards attracting new, young families to Oak Brook," he said.

One negative issue Moy addressed was cost to residents. District 53 residents would pay $187 a year for a home valued at $500,000, as outlined in Hanzlik's proposal. Moy said he did not have a problem paying a few extra hundred dollars in taxes because he believes the positives of it will outweigh the negatives.

"I think a new school would be good for Oak Brook," he said. "It will improve our image, it will improve our revenues, it will improve our property value and all other good things will come."

Candidate Young asked Hanzlik if there was a plan B if the referenda fails.

"We have no plan B at this point," Hanzlik said. "We're expecting that this is the right decision."

One resident in attendance asked the candidates for a yes or no answer as to whether or not they agreed with the construction of a new school.

Cuevas, Young and Adler said they would support what residents decided in April, Baar and Moy said yes and Denton said no.

Residents will now vote in April on the referenda. The first asks residents to approve financing a $15 million bond issue and the second asks to approve the sale of the Sports Core land. If each passes, the final decision will go to the zoning board and village trustees for approval.

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