District 225 board approves spending to address fire damage at Glenbrook South

  • Area fire departments responded to the May 4 fire that started in the wood shop at Glenbrook South High School.

      Area fire departments responded to the May 4 fire that started in the wood shop at Glenbrook South High School. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Updated 6/7/2023 1:21 PM

The Glenbrook High School District 225 school board this week approved emergency expenditure to fast-track reconstruction from the May 4 fire at Glenbrook South High School's wood shop.

District administrators asked the board to approve $1.63 million to help restore the wood shop, wood shop classroom, a faculty cafeteria, testing center and bookstore rendered unusable by the fire, smoke damage and water used to douse the flames.


The emergency expenditure, allowable under Illinois School Code to suspend the normal bidding process if approved by three-quarters of the board, was sought to get those rooms ready as close as possible to the start of the 2023-24 school year. The board unanimously approved the request.

While the more labor-intensive wood shop and wood shop classroom are anticipated to reopen in November, the other spaces should be ready by the start of school on Aug. 24.

There are 146 students enrolled in Glenbrook South's wood shop classes for the first semester.

Superintendent Charles Johns said Glenbrook South Principal Barbara Georges is working on "instructional adaptations that will facilitate (wood shop) classes" until the restored area is available.

The urgency is compounded by a 16-week lead time for materials and scheduling the different trades doing the work.

Normally, the process -- from analyzing a project, letting and receiving bids through the end of a construction -- takes 13 months to plan and execute, according to the presentation by Associate Superintendent R.J. Gravel and Director of Operations Kim Ptak.

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"We have a limited amount of time," Gravel said.

Gravel said five of the six vendors handling roofing, mechanical systems, fire protection, material abatement and carpeted and concrete flooring are proven vendors within the district. They have delivered winning low bids for prior work or for jobs this summer contracting with district construction management company Nicholas and Associates.

Though the emergency expenditure was for $1.63 million, Gravel and Ptak said the full tab will be around $3 million, from the start of rehabilitation in May through total occupancy. The district is responsible for the first $1,000 due to the fire and for the cost of any "enhancements" beyond what was originally there.

Ptak said much will be replaced and expected the bulk of the reconstruction to be covered by a risk-sharing insurance pool the district pays into, plus the district's reinsurance carrier.

Among the lengthy list of work to be done, a positive ramification of the fire will be the installation of a sprinkler system in the wood shop. Sprinklers had not been installed in that part of the building, opened in 1962, but under Illinois Administrative Code now are required.

Glenview Fire Chief Tony DeRose said what caused the fire -- the use of a torch to distress wood -- also has been addressed.

"That's been removed from the curriculum," Gravel said.

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