Mundelein High officials planning expansion, say tax increase would be needed
Less than two years after completing a $23.7 million addition, Mundelein High School officials and architects are crafting a new multimillion-dollar expansion plan.
A new auditorium and a new cafeteria are chief among the projects being considered. Existing building space also could be turned into classrooms for performing arts programs.
At this preliminary stage, administrators say the price tags for the proposed projects total around $50.7 million. That's down from the $157.7 million estimate Legat Architects gave in January before scaling back projects at the school board's request.
Regardless, officials say they'll probably have to ask voters to approve a tax-rate increase to fund the work.
"Depending on the timing of these projects, there would likely have to be a referendum," said Andy Searle, the school's business manager.
Legat's architects were hired to develop a long-range facilities plan for the campus at 1350 W. Hawley St., including the building, athletic fields and parking lots.
The study didn't include the Village Green Golf Club, which the district owns and could be partially converted into sports fields if a planned sale of the bulk of the property goes through. The study also didn't include the former church property that adjoins the school and was purchased by the district in 2016.
Legat's original $157.7 million plan included a new athletic field house, a new media center, a student commons area, renovated classrooms, corridor realignments and many other changes. But officials recognized doing everything on the list wasn't feasible, so Superintendent Kevin Myers asked board members to prioritize.
They focused on replacing the auditorium; creating new classroom spaces for choir, band and theater programs; building a more modern cafeteria; and renovating and expanding the school's parking lots.
A new auditorium could be built on the north side of the school. Board member Jane Siegal, a retired Mundelein High social worker, doesn't recall the existing auditorium being renovated during her tenure.
"(It's) very old and very tired," she said.
A new cafeteria could be built in repurposed space on the building's north side, too.
Adding athletic fields also was a priority. But instead of building new fields, officials are speaking with Mundelein Elementary District 75 officials about improving existing fields at Sandburg Middle School and Mechanics Grove Elementary School, which already are used by some high school teams.
Those possible improvements aren't covered by the current cost estimate, Searle said.
District 120 officials haven't yet approved any projects, nor have they said when they might send a tax-increase plan to voters.
However, if the District 120 and District 75 boards work out a deal for upgrading the athletic fields at Sandburg and Mechanics Grove, that work could happen in the summers of 2019 and 2020, Searle said.
Searle said the $50.7 million estimate could change significantly, "based on what actually gets designed and when the project will take place."
The expansion that was completed in 2016 was funded with an $8.3 million state grant and loans. A tax-rate increase wasn't necessary.
District 120 voters approved a $10 million loan for facility improvements in 2011. It paid for an artificial turf athletic field, bathroom upgrades, roof repairs and other projects, and didn't raise the tax rate.
In 1995, voters approved a $12.5 million expansion project that included new classrooms and a new library and did increase the tax rate.