Vote on New Trier referendum question expected Thursday

In order to complete its proposed Winnetka campus renovation, the New Trier High School Board of Education would ask taxpayers to approve an $89 million referendum. | Provided
In order to complete its proposed Winnetka campus renovation, the New Trier High School Board of Education would ask taxpayers to approve an $89 million referendum. | Provided

The New Trier High School Board of Education must act Thursday night to place its proposed Winnetka campus renovation plan on the November ballot.

As part of the renovation plan, New Trier would need to ask voters to approve an $89 million referendum. The proposal would call for the demolition of the 1912 cafeteria, 1931 tech arts building and the 1950 music building on the west side of the Winnetka campus.

Replacing the three buildings would be a new 275,000 square foot building, which would provide 20 additional multipurpose academic classrooms. The new building would also improve accessibility issues for students, staff and visitors with disabilities.

New Trier administrators hoped the renovation would cost no more than $100 million. At its July 24 meeting, however, the New Trier Board was told the current cost estimate for the renovation was $102.5 million.

The District’s Finance Committee had recommended using $11 million in district reserves to help fund the project, and approved increasing that number to $13.5 million if needed.

New Trier board members said the district would look to refine the project ahead of Thursday’s meeting, in order to get as close to the initial $100 million cost estimate as possible.

“I’m disappointed that we’re at $102.5 million,” Board Member Greg Robitaille said. “To get below $102.5 million at this point, in our opinion, would cut into the muscle and bone and the very foundation of why we’re doing this project. That said, we’re not done yet. My hope is and my expectation is we will continue to work really hard to get the price down.”

If board members approve of placing the referendum question on the November ballot, New Trier and its architects would begin with schematic design work of the proposed referendum. Community engagement efforts would also continue ahead of Election Day.

The New Trier High School Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday night in room C234 at the Northfield campus, 7 S. Happ Road.

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