GLENWOOD | The Brookwood Middle School building, at 200 E. Glenwood-Lansing Road, is the focus of a referendum Tuesday for voters who live in the Brookwood School District 167, which includes Glenwood and parts of Lansing, Lynwood and Chicago Heights.
Those voters will be asked to approve a bond sale to raise $15.8 million to construct a new middle school building.
Officials admit the school district’s share of property tax bills will increase, but Terry Campbell, a village trustee and former School Board member who is helping to organize support for the bond sale, said the increase would be $1.50 per $100,000 of equalized assessed valuation, or about an extra $20 per year per homeowner.
Trina Mays-Barton, who coordinated efforts to spread the word to area voters in support of the referendum, said that senior citizens who use an exemption would only pay $1.28 more per $100,000.
“When you put it to people in those terms, they seem to be understanding,” Campbell said.
While Barton said, “I hope and pray they support us on Tuesday.”
Campbell said that members of the Citizens for a Healthy, Safe and Secure Middle School group have spent the past month knocking on the front doors of every single school district resident, along with sending out an informational flier and having 145 yard signs throughout the area in recent weeks all touting a “yes” vote for the bond sale.
The old building dates back to 1898, and Campbell said a new school is desperately needed to adequately educate local children.
The building itself is not in its original state. An addition several decades ago does not match up in architectural style to the original portion, and Campbell said an architectural analysis done about a decade ago concluded there was little of historic value to the structure as it exists now.
In fact, the most “historic” aspect of the school might be its name, which comes from the combination of Glenwood and Holbrook, an unincorporated area that was merged into the district about eight decades ago, Campbell said.
“I like to hang on to old buildings when it’s practical, but this one isn’t really historic, even though many people look at it and presume that it has to be,” he said.
While Barton said that it would cost “millions” to restore the structure to one worthy of historic recognition. “It still wouldn’t meet the needs” of the roughly 230 students who attend classes there now.
That is because there are problems with electricity in the building that make it difficult to adequately heat the structure during the winter and keep cool in the summer.
There also are issues with asbestos. Officials have spent significant amounts of money in recent years to remove it. But Campbell said there are some walls that are blocked by other walls, meaning officials can’t get to them to check for asbestos. “We’re not sure if it’s there, or not,” he said.
And from Campbell’s standpoint, another problem lies with the restroom facilities in the building, all of which are on the ground floor.
“We have offices and classrooms on the upper floor, and all of those people have to go to the basement if they have to use the bathroom,” he said.
Which is why he said the $6 million estimated to renovate the existing structure is not practical.
“It would still be a century-old building,” he said.