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updated: 10/15/2012 11:26 PM

Glenbard North, East graduation site decision tabled

Glenbard North, East graduation site up in air

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The school year has already begun, but students and families at Glenbard North and East high schools still don't know exactly where it will end -- that is, where graduation ceremonies will be held.

Officials at Glenbard High School District 87 have proposed moving commencement ceremonies to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates for a year while renovations take place at the current site of North and East graduations: College of DuPage's Physical Education Center.

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The school board agreed to table a final decision Monday, since two board members were out of town and Superintendent Dave Larson said he wants the full seven-member board to vote on the issue.

Some have expressed concerns about holding the ceremonies at the Sears Centre at the price of $29,014, suggesting it could be cheaper to hold on-campus ceremonies.

They point to Glenbard West, which holds commencement at Duchon Field, and Glenbard South, which uses its gymnasium.

Board member Tom Voltaggio said the Sears Centre base fee might not include several reimbursable items such as costs for energy, teardown and security.

He compared the Sears Centre arrangement to the item-by-item costs McCormick Place charges convention exhibitors.

"It's things those type of venues typically make their money on," Voltaggio said. "That's no swipe at them. That's how they make their money."

Voltaggio said he wants to see a "realistic" comparison of the total costs of having commencement ceremonies on-campus versus off.

Glenbard officials have estimated it would 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.

Chris McClain, the district's assistant superintendent for business services, said the price quoted by the Sears Centre would be fixed unless Glenbard decides to "significantly modify the setup" of the venue, such as adjustments to podiums and staging.

Administrators at North and East wrote in a memo to the school board that holding graduations at Sears Centre would be more accommodating for students and families since there are extra handicapped seating arrangements, bathrooms and parking spaces.

Nearly 4,000 guests attend each ceremony, and North and East have the largest enrollments of the four Glenbard schools.

Board Vice President Rose Malcolm said she wants to hear from the principals of both schools at the board's next meeting Oct. 29.

McClain said the risk in delaying a decision could mean losing the venue for the proposed graduation date, June 5, 2013, should another entity take that date.

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