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updated: 9/11/2012 5:42 PM

2 Glenbards might move graduations to Sears Centre

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Officials at Glenbard North and East high schools say holding graduation off-campus is more accommodating to the nearly 4,000 guests who attend each ceremony.

But some have balked at the cost to do it -- about $29,000 -- and insist it's better to have commencement on campus.

Glenbard officials have been searching for a new venue to hold next year's graduations because renovations are taking place at the site of North and East commencement ceremonies: College of DuPage's Physical Education Center.

The ceremonies have been held there the last few years, officials say, because those two schools have the largest enrollments within the district. Glenbard West has commencement at Duchon Field, and Glenbard South uses its gymnasium.

Administrators have proposed holding the 2013 North and East ceremonies at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, where 16 other schools hold commencement every year. They say there's more handicapped seating arrangements, bathrooms and parking -- and no chance that inclement weather could postpone the ceremonies.

"As the two largest schools in District 87, we are obligated to provide our students and families with the most accommodating venue -- one that allows as many family members as possible to enjoy this once in a lifetime event," wrote Bill Mushrush and Eric Johansen, assistant principals for operations at East and North, respectively, in a memo to the school board.

They also said holding graduations on campus would require them to limit each student to three guest tickets, instead of six.

But some members of the school board's finance and facility committee question the price tag for off-campus graduations.

For two graduations on June 5, 2013 at Sears Centre, Glenbard would have to pay a base license fee of $29,014. That's close to the $15,000-per-school rate the district has been paying at COD.

"(Graduations at) high school football fields worked for 30 years," board member Tom Voltaggio said. "We sweated our tails off in Biester Gym. We didn't know any better. We grabbed our diplomas and we were out the door. We have better places to spend our money."

"That's a lot of money for a two-hour ceremony," added committee member Margaret DeLaRosa.

However, it could cost $13,600 to host graduations on each campus, including costs of a professional temporary sound system, rental of folding chairs, and hiring local police for security.

"The incremental cost in-house versus off-site is not significant," said Chris McClain, Glenbard's assistant superintendent for business services.

The full school board is expected to vote on the issue Sept. 24.

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