•                                                                 Conrady Junior High School: An Overview

    In 1969, just four years after it was built, Conrady Junior High School needed an addition. Whatever the reason, the school simply ran out of space.

    Six years later, a second addition was built. A third addition would be built 25 years later in 2000. Then this year, faced with a growing enrollment and in serious need of space, North Palos District 117 approved installing four mobile classrooms at the Hickory Hills junior high school.

    For as long as most people can remember, Conrady, specifically what to do with the aging and deteriorating building, has been foremost on the minds of community residents and stakeholders.

    In fact, what to do with Conrady was a constant topic of discussion at board meetings most of last year. During the last 15 years, the sixth- through eighth-grade building has experienced an enrollment increase of nearly 200 students. Conrady’s enrollment was 743 students in June 1997. By June 2011, the school’s enrollment reached 939 students.

    The enrollment growth is not a bubble – but a trend. District 117 has maintained the same school boundaries that it has had since it became a school district more than 150 years ago.

    Enrollment increases coupled with changes in how teachers now teach have put a strain on already tight spaces. Some teachers have been relegated to teaching in storage rooms, broom closets, bathrooms and other non-instructional spaces. Add to that the building’s narrow hallways, low ceilings and the need for additional space to accommodate 21st Century Learning, Common Core State Standards and federally mandated programs.

    Science lab space does not support a 21st Century curriculum or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum. A $1 million roofing project is also needed.

    Preliminary estimates suggest that a new junior high school would cost approximately $39 million, while an addition and major renovations to th existing building would cost about $41 million. Obsolete lighting still exists and replacement materials are no longer manufactured.

    To gain a better understanding of the situation and to develop a long-term solution, the district created three committees last year: 21st Century Learning; Steering Committee and a Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

    Committees met in the spring and presented their findings to the board in June.

    In summary, the findings concluded that Conrady is at a pivotal point in its ability to continue providing its students the best learning opportunities possible. These are learning opportunities that will allow students to be the best for the world in an ever-increasing and competitive global society.

    The district also held two community open houses in September and October where residents and stakeholders were encouraged to tour the building and see firsthand the many issues that have been discussed over the years. Another community open house is being planned and will take place in February or March.

    Over the last several years, the district has spent or allocated some $16 million in reserve funds to pay for additions at three schools. The district also has used a $1.7 million grant to offset the cost of construction. Now the district is looking to do something to Conrady that most believe is long overdue.

    In our continued effort to keep you, our stakeholders, informed, we will provide periodic updates in the weeks and months ahead.

    After all, a successful school district is the product of a total community involvement. And in District 117, we are incredibly fortunate to have such an
    involved community.

    If anyone is interested in a personal tour of Conrady, please contact Principal Andy Anderson at (708) 233-4505 or Superintendent Jeannie Stachowiak at (708) 233-5762.