Maine Township High School District 207 is buying back a building it sold in the 1980s for use as a district administration center and space for the district's alternative school program.
The $2.1 million purchase of the 18,000-square-foot TMA office building at Devon Avenue and Dee Road in Park Ridge, located just south of Maine South High School, is being funded by proceeds of the previous sale of the same building and the sale of the former Maine North High School in 1981.
District officials on Tuesday finalized a purchase agreement with TMA, a manufacturing association, following the school board's approval of the contract Monday.
The school board in 1981 decided to close Maine North due to declining enrollment districtwide, as well as to relocate administrative offices and the boardroom to a portion of Maine South, which at the time had the smallest enrollment in the district.
Today, officials say Maine South's enrollment is the largest of the three district schools, and they hope freeing up the current administrative office space within Maine South will allow the school to have more room for student support services and collaborative space.
District administrators and architects will meet over the next few months to determine exactly how to configure the existing 8,000 square feet of office space and what its new use will be.
At the same time, relocation of the district's Alternative Resource Center from a leased space within St. Mary's Knanaya Catholic Parish in Morton Grove to the new administration building in Park Ridge will allow the district to save on overhead costs since ARC staff and students will be able to utilize resources at neighboring Maine South, said district spokesman Dave Beery.
There are currently some 30 students throughout District 207 who attend the ARC, which is targeted to students with behavioral problems.
The district will terminate its $125,000-a-year lease with St. Mary's on Jan. 31, 2015 -- around the same time the ARC is expected to relocate to Park Ridge.
Most of the 35 to 40 employees who comprise the district's administrative staff -- such as the superintendent, assistant superintendents, and payroll, special education and technology department employees -- will move into their new offices in late December 2014 or early January 2015, Beery said.
The administration building will include a new room for school board meetings, which are now held at Maine South. While minimal work will be needed on the portion of the building that will house administrative offices, a classroom will be constructed in the building for the ARC, Beery said.
The size of the existing TMA property is 2.8 acres -- large enough for the district or Maine South to expand on, though there are currently no plans to do so, Beery said.