HARVEY | It did not take long before the change of guard flexed its new muscles.
Armed with an expected solid majority based on Tuesday night’s election results, the Thornton Township High School District 205 board tabled the planned $10 million summer renovation projects for all three high schools.
Tria Architecture, the Chicago-based firm in charge of the summer projects, appeared before the board at Wednesday night’s meeting for approval to begin the projects that were planned at Thornwood, Thornton and Thornridge high schools this summer. The projects totaled $10.7 million and included renovation of washrooms, new elevators and enclosing open staircases.
But several board members were unhappy with Tria and let them know about their displeasure.
“In the past two months, we have repeatedly asked for much more detail regarding the cost breakdown of this work,” Toni Williams told the Tria representatives. “You have not provided that detailed breakdown. When we are talking about spending $10 million, we want line item detail. I don’t understand why that is so hard to get.”
Ken Williams took his criticism a step further.
“Past work led by your firm raised questions with this board,” he said. “We feel you promised certain things verbally that were not delivered. We want line item written detail to ensure we are getting exactly what we paid for.”
Board member Derrick Robinson then proposed to table the projects.
“I believe we, as a board, need to thoroughly review the work being proposed at each school and make sure this is how we want to go forward,” Robinson said.
The new board, including two new members, will be sworn in next month, which may provide a very different perspective to the proposed work.
The current proposal calls for washrooms to be renovated at all three schools. However, it is not clear if teacher and staff washrooms are included or just student washrooms.
“If we are going to do some of the washrooms, we need to do all of them,” Ken Williams said. “It makes no sense to only do the student ones. We should do all of the washrooms and be done with it.”
Ken Williams then asked the members of the board's Finance Committee if they were approving the proposed projects as is.
Two of the members of the committee, Ray Banks and Art Burton, lost their re-election bids to the school board and will be replaced next month.
No one from the committee said that they backed the proposal as is, but Banks and Burton voted against tabling the projects. Ed Crayton also voted against the table.
But Toni and Ken Williams, along with Robinson, voted for the table, and the 3-3 tie was the equivalent of a win.
It is unclear if the new board will want the same work done, or if they want it to be led by Tria. It also is unclear if the delay in starting the project will impact how much work can be accomplished this summer.
Robinson said he would reconvene the involved parties to get the requested details regarding cost breakdown and exactly what work is included.