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H-F High School Plans New $26M Field House

Homewood-Flossmoor High School is planning to replace its old field house with a new, 100,000-square foot, $26 million facility. How do you think these plans will affect students and families in the community?

Homewood-Flossmoor High School is planning to tear down its old field house and build a new 100,000-square foot facility at an estimated cost of $26 million in its place, according to a Sun-Times Media report.

The project is expected to be finished by 2014 and is meant to create more space for all of the school's 75 sports teams and more than 90 student activities, according to an emailed statement from Jodi Bryant, the district's director of human resources and public relations. Foundation work is planned to begin in November, and major work on the field house is slated for late spring, when sports and physical education classes move outside, according to the statement. The focus over the summer will be completing the main building elements of the project, including a new and more accessible entrance to the North Building, in time for students to return next fall.

Some of the amenities of the new field house will include a 200 meter track, four basketball courts, four volleyball courts, 16 badminton and tennis courts, classrooms, meeting rooms, team locker rooms, spectator bleachers, and accessibility enhancements including a new elevator. The statement also notes that the cafeteria and other areas will see "much needed improvements" and that the new facility is being designed to comply with LEED standards for energy and resource efficiency.

As for how the project will be paid for, the district's statement indicates that now is the most cost-effective time to begin construction without costing taxpayers any more: "This project is taking advantage of historically low financing rates that may never be seen again, in addition the project will be completed within our debt service and with no increase to the taxpayers' yearly tax bill."

There will be a page on the school's website sometime in November to provide more information about the project.

We asked H-F Patch readers on Facebook what they thought of the plans. Here's what some of them had to say:

  • Karen McHugh - "My main concern is how this will affect the student in the North building. My daughter is in the building for the majority of her day. I know construction companies take precautions as far as dust and stuff...but what about the noise factor?"
  • Fay Booker - "The field house is old and needs refurbishing. This proposed structure is simply excessive. And guess what, the HF Board doesn't have to go to the voters for approval...."
  • Caryn Caperelli Smith - "My kids are in sports and they are excited about the new fieldhouse, good for them!"
  • Ashley Chapman - "I think it's great! A lot more opportunities for the kids and great exposure to HF. It can hold a lot of meets and other physical activities. Also a great space to be utilized for community functions!"
  • Ted Peters - "This fieldhouse is very nice and spacious. Improvements could be made at a fraction. A complete tear -down and reconstruction is not needed."
  • Matty Jiles - "Another field house? I feel like they could work on fixing up some computer labs first"

We also received this comment in an email from reader Jennifer Molski:

"Most college teams don't even have facilities this fancy. And how about directing the monies instead to computers for students, trade schools, etc. (especially in this economy!!!) I heard that part of the funding would come from $10 million in bonds which if I am not mistaken is the eventual burden of taxpayers."

Juvenal October 25, 2012 at 04:00 PM
This is what you want, this is what you get..... The HF 233 Board has always been a bunch of spineless lackeys who give Von (and before him, Laura) whatever they want. Every vote is unanimous. I cannot recall a single Board member who ever stood up for taxpayers or gave more than lip service about the outrageous tax burdens this single school district imposes on its community. Between the tax burden the school imposes and its role as a magnet drawing the pathologies of the inner city to the community, what was once the gem of our community is now oftentimes part of the problem. To be fair, though, no one with the interests of the taxpayers even runs for the Board -- they just move...
Tom Losh October 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
And yet Willow School doesn't even have air conitioning. There are days these children come home soaked!
Juvenal October 25, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Hey HF Board, it took me two minutes on Google to determine your facility is way overpriced: the below article suggests that a larger, 4 story structure with a parking garage can be built for about 2/3 of what you have budgeted, and that your budget is about THREE or FOUR TIMES what a more comparable structure ( a 90,000 Sq Ft suburban Target store) would cost? Please stop being so profligate with OPM (Other people's Money)...... Last April, Home Depot opened its second urban-format store in Chicago’s densely populated, prestigious Lincoln Park district, on the city’s north side. The four-story, mixed-use facility sports 100,000 sq ft of retail space on the first two floors, a 217-car parking garage stacked in two levels on top and 10,000 sq ft of additional office space. Sources say the design-build job cost roughly $16 million and took 12 months to complete. Marshall says the new urban stores cost three times more and take twice as long to build than larger outlets sited away from the inner-cit
Mary-Jo October 25, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I love my alma mater dearly, but this is over the top and unnecessary. $25M is absurd!! I am not a building inspector, but why can't the existing one be repaired and upgraded? How many bids were received? Why doesn't anyone ever asks what the tax payers want? I want equity in funding. Who ever determined that the athletic department trumps the Arts, vocational training, or the chess club for that matter? I don't mind paying our sizeable property tax, but to have no say into how HF spends my money is disheartening. This is someone's vanity project.
Mary-Jo October 25, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Is that true? I know they've not the same taxing body, but really...that is ridiculous for those little ones.
BUTCH October 25, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Linda Richard and Juvenal all should consider running for HF HI SCHOOL BD
Ken Kozminski October 25, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Our taxes are forcing us to move from the area...way too expensive. Stop spending the tax payers money!
Cheryl Sailor October 25, 2012 at 10:53 PM
HF was ALWAYS too sports orientated to the detriment of other areas of education that will actually have application to adult life! Visually one can see that the majority of space is sports orientated which in my opinion is an absolutely useless waste of time. The only thing I ever learned from the highly competitive HF physical "education" program was how to be stressed, anxious and LAST. Virtually nothing from phys ed ever helped me in adult life. So here you have forced activities that have little to no future value and often create anxiety in students rather than alleviate student stress. They should put the money into Science, English, the Arts and Shop classes which absolutely have bearing to the rest of adult life. The size of HF's physical ed program has always ballooned over real education. Perhaps they are training for the .5% who might make it into professional sports while teaching the rest to know what they are looking at when sitting on that couch to watch the unending sports television. I have had these thoughts throughout my 4 years of that school, and are unchanged now, about 40 yrs later. I absolutely do not want to pay into that sports minded system. Disgusting.
Deb Hartung October 26, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Cheryl, I'm not in support of spending 25 million on a new fieldhouse but I have to disagree with you on the benefits of not just phys ed but sports in general at H-F. Physical Education classes are one period out of a possible seven so I can't see how your statement that it balloons over real education at H-F makes any sense. H=F offers so much in "real" education. Stop in the office and pick up the book containing the courses that are offered. It is impressive. I don't know the exact number of AP classes offered but it is definitely more than any of my friend's kids high schools - all in the western and northern suburbs. Sports teams are extra-curricular so are not taking any class time from the students. They are voluntary. From my experience, ( I have three children who are H-F graduates and my youngest who is currently a senior at H-F) I would say that their sports team experiences definitely helped mold them into the great people they have become.. They have learned teamwork, humility, and the ability to win or lose with grace. I am thankful that they had great coaches along the way. We moved to this area for the great schools and I am glad we did!!
Bob carpenter October 26, 2012 at 02:07 PM
No one knows what teacher, coach or club sponsor is going to ignite a student's thirst to learn. Outstanding schools provide opportunities for children in a variety of possibilities. This field house is another classroom for students to unleash their potential. You can't start comparing chemistry to English to athletics. Each one is equally important to improve one's self image to be successful in life. I applaud the administration and board for taking the initiative to provide facilities that offer our students the very best chance to find their confidence. Bob Carpenter
Juvenal October 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM
So we are at 17 posts opposed to a new fieldhous, 0 in support. Are you listening HF Board? You will have more free time soon......
Blind Dog Fulton October 26, 2012 at 07:47 PM
With all the posts showing such opposition, strong opposition, to the new H-F Field House, I am guessing I should see your names on the next HF 233 School Board Ballot, right? Doubtful
LocalRez October 26, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Personally I think the board needs to do a little more investigation on alternatives and at a minimum explain WHY HF needs this state of the art facility at such a high cost. No expenditures of this size should be solely approved by the board when it's cost affect so many homeowners taxes. I can see some of the benefits of sports activities but I question the lack of funding on other programs that might be more practical. Personally I'd like to see classes that teach kids money managment! How to be resourceful, how to be good stewards of the environment, how to participate in city governments. I think we need more involvement from our youth in these ares to further our country not sports entertainment! Sports is something to enjoy after the work is done not instead of the work! They can dream of making a pro team but statistically I don't think many do. What's a 35 year old baseball player out of "work" going to do? Go on Food stamps? Welfare? Get the priorities straight first not you ego pumping.
Juvenal October 26, 2012 at 08:14 PM
My status as a Roman Citizen, coupled with my obligations as gadfly-without-Portfolio here, prevent me from holding such an office; but I do agree that persons who understand the proper role of a school board (hint, not lapdogs for either Administration or teachers union) need to step up to the plate....
Juvenal October 26, 2012 at 08:35 PM
http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/deo/Pages/electedofficiallist.aspx?qtype=2&hnum=2948&sname=sunset&zip=60422#High%20School%20District 3 Seats are up next year; candidate information is available at this same site.
Kelly shereyk October 27, 2012 at 01:46 AM
If we want our district to compete with the New Triers, Winnetkas, and Stevensons of the State, we need a community center ( which is what this field house will be) that is state of the art. I have listened and seen the plans for the field house. It is more than just a sports facility, it is a community center that will set us up to be the premier high school in the state. Go to Dr. Pitcock or Dr. Mansfield and ask them to share the renderings with you. Before you moan about your tax dollars.... There is NO better investment we can make then in our children and in the PRIDE a campus and state of the art field house gives to our community. The way to rise from the economic crisis is to invest in our communities, our kids and each other. I applaud HF high school, the board and the management for having the vision to re-invest in the community. Way to go!!!!!
Juvenal October 27, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Well if we want to be like New Trier (where taxpayers are orders of magnitude wealthier than H-F's) I would note that that "community" overwhelmingly rejected a bond referendum not long ago where the pork was to be directed to upgrading their (much older) facilities. Here, spending $25 million of "the community's" money without asking, and limiting public disclosures on the project until it's a done deal, doesn't seem very neighborly. Oh and BTW Kelly, the only area where HF still competes with the truly elite high schools is in administrative salaries...
Homewood Momma October 27, 2012 at 02:02 PM
If we want to be like New Trier, then we need to invest more in education. Have you looked at their test scores lately? They were on the warning list last year due to low scores.. they are no longer the "blue ribbon" school they claim to be. In the past 4 years it seems as if the school is on a steady decline, and as a mother of an 8th grader, i cant imagine sending another student there. They need to do a study to determine why so many tax payers are leaving the school.. just look at the demographics, not representative of either community they draw from... why are parents deciding to send their children to private schools? I understand sports are great, but they should not be the focal point of the school nor should it be taking away from other academic subjects. The focus should be how to get the other academic levels test scores up and how to get their blue ribbon status back.. not throwing more money on a sport structure that community has to pay for and not get to use. I moved here because of the great schools, but in my opinion, HF is no longer that place people spoke so highly of.
Genvieve LaChappele October 27, 2012 at 02:43 PM
new trier's act average is 27.5, stevenson's is 26.2. HF's is 21.5. I hope this investment brings up our scores. (sarcasm)
Gina October 27, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I totally agree with you this is going to come back and bite the taxpayer! What are these school official’s thinking, this is NOT going to help further the future of our children! If we have this kind of money, we should be investing it on EDUCATION; Science, Math, Computers! Really Folks, we are be eaten alive by other countries in those fields of Math and Science!! My daughter graduated from HF High School with honors, when she went to Loyola University, she had to play catch-up in math! She has since graduated from Loyola with Bachelors of Science in Chemistry.
Richard Thomas October 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Kind of parallels our property values.
Chet Chit Chat October 28, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Wow, talk about yea of little faith. What a wonderful opportunity to have a world class facility in YOUR own backyard. Just like the article says, historic low rates for everything. It didn't go to referendum because it's already fully funded by YOUR hard earned tax dollars.
Chet Chit Chat October 28, 2012 at 05:46 AM
There is a such thing as sports medicine and sports management. You resident ding dongs should be thrilled we have more public infrastructure. Said ding dongs are also the ding dongs who are going to turn village, school, and other local boards on their ears but never ever show up to any sort of public meetings. Believe me I go to these meetings, and it's usually me, a local Patch guy, and a few flying insects. Stop being armchair administrators, "educate" your narrow minds then step up to the plate. Until then, read your US Weekly and watch your Springer episodes!
Chet Chit Chat October 28, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Also, it's the resident ding dongs negativity which brings down community moral. What a great community, school, business district, la la la. The list could be endless. Thanks to the H-F community for all the wonderful resources you provide your residents. Resident ding dongs, you know who you are, make good on all your threats including leaving the state. P.S. I hope all my grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure is correct. I don't want Juvenal yelling at me, me thinks I just might whither and die!
Genvieve LaChappele October 28, 2012 at 11:27 PM
You are right chet chit chat. The residents are not showing up to meetings etc. It is our own fault that we have the board that we do. We voted for them. Just like in the State of Illinois. We get what we voted for. Nothing will change until the people have had enough. People are now voting with their feet. By leaving.
Wendell Mosby October 29, 2012 at 12:29 PM
The lack of civic engagement is not limited to HF, we usually have about 3 taxpayers at our PSC meeting and we impact over 15 communities. Anyone interested in running for the HF Board and need some pointers, don't hesitate to contact me.
Juvenal October 29, 2012 at 05:56 PM
So if the HF Board avoids the spirit of the referendum law by quietly overtaxing us for years and building up an 8 figure surplus, that's OK? I just looked at my last HF Viking Connection newsletter (Vol 31, Fall 2012) and the way Von buries his lede and dances around the costs of the "rebuilding" and "expan[sion] of "the H-F Fieldhouse" (listing it last of 10 projects listed, and making it sound more like a kitchen addition than a project comparable to the cost of some skyscrapers) is pathetic. Throwing money at infrastructure cannot reverse decline, and when that money comes from a mobile and already overtaxed populace in the first place those expensive bureaucrat playthings end up driving more people away from the community than they attract. Not sure any community I want to live in needs MORE basketball courts... "The whole idea of saving declining cities by building more is a mistake, since the hallmark of declining cities is that they have plenty of infrastructure relative to people. Detroit’s houses sell for a fraction of the costs of building anything new. The monorail glides over essentially empty streets. Indeed, there is surely more wisdom in Mayor Bing’s plan to shrink the city’s footprint than in the light rail system simultaneously being planned for Detroit." http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/shrinking-detroit-back-to-greatness/
Don Mastery October 31, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Is this really about HF investing too much in sports? From what I remember, HF recently renovated the music wing. Oh yeah, and a couple years ago they added science labs and a state of the art, environmentally friendly, green house and plants & animals classroom. A few years before that it was a new auditorium and drama/theatre area. And, right now they're completing a new television studio in the communications wing. These are the MANY reasons H-F is such a great school. Say what you may, our kids still get a top notch, well-rounded education and we're lucky to pay relatively low taxes compared to northern suburbs with the same types of facilities..
Felicia Richmond March 31, 2013 at 11:25 PM
I'm a parent of 3 children that attended and graduated from HF. Im proud of their accomplishments and opportunities given to them by HF. I don't have a problem paying higher taxes if you give me what I pay for. A well rounded community! From head start to high school! No parent should have to send their children to a private school on top of paying high taxes. We can use an upgrade on street signs and lights...God Bless HF! Together we can do this!
alexandrahay May 01, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Bob - I would very much like to talk with you about your Title IX complaint against HF. I just filed on behalf of our female athletes, particularly softball, at Lake Central in Indiana due to proportionality violations. I look forward to hearing from you, Alexandra Hay hay4us@yahoo.com

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