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SOUTH SUBURBAN SCHOOL DISTRICT EXPLORES CLOSING FLAGSHIP HIGH SCHOOL

9/18/2019, noon | Updated on 9/18/2019, noon
Rich Township High School District 227 is currently considering the closure of Rich East High School, 300 Sauk Trail, in ...
Rich Township High School District 227 is currently considering plans to repair or replace the buildings in the district and the potential closure of Rich East High School in Park Forest. Photo Credit: Provided by the Village of Park Forest

South Suburban School District Explores Closing Flagship High School

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

Rich Township High School District 227 is currently considering the closure of Rich East High School, 300 Sauk Trail, in Park Forest due to what the board claims to be a decreasing student body population and the need to make significant repairs to all of the district’s three buildings.

Rich Township High School District 227 currently includes Rich Central High School, Rich East High School, and Rich South High School.

Back in June, the Rich Township High School District 227 board presented several options for repairing and readjusting the school district’s facilities. Six options were presented and they ranged from the most expensive option to repair and upgrade all of the buildings at an estimated cost of $399 million to the cheapest option which would be to purchase a new facility and partially renovate an existing facility for an estimated cost of $105.6 million. The cheapest plan includes the closure of Rich East High School which is the district’s oldest building.

“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,” said Dr. Alicia Evans, assistant superintendent for Business and Operations for Rich Township High School District 227.

The six options that were presented to the Rich Township High School District 227 board members at the meeting in June were created as a result of school and community surveys, according to Evans.

“Because we gathered information from various groups we had different stakeholders who responded differently based on who they were. Students responded as well as staff and we were able to glean some general information. Based on all of that data, we were asked to provide the Board of Education with some options and they are true options that we are looking at,” said Evans.

Since then, the Rich Township High School District 227 has hosted a series of community forums to discuss the options at hand.

Most recently, the Mayor of Park Forest, Jonathon Vanderbilt made public a letter that he sent to Park Forest residents in which he stated that he is against closure Rich East High School. Vanderbilt said that he believes the closure of Rich East High School would harm the Village’s economic efforts and decrease property values in Park Forest.

“The Village of Park Forest has let School District 227 know that closing Rich East High School is a very bad and near-sighted decision for our community,” said Mayor Vanderbilt “It is my sincere hope that all Park Foresters grasp the magnitude of what is being considered with Rich East High School. Please join me and other Village Officials in making sure that our collective voices are heard.”