H-F board approves construction of fine arts wing

Work on a new Fine Arts wing at Homewood-Flossmoor High School will begin in July. 
 
At a special board meeting Sunday, June 2, the $13,987,495 contract was awarded to Cosgrove Construction of Joliet by unanimous vote. 
 
The board has sufficient funding for this project. If all goes according to plan, the work should be completed in October 2020.
 
The plans call for building a black box theater onto the north side of the Mall Auditorium, and another wing for music programs constructed on the grassy knoll at the south end of the auditorium. 
 
Orchestra, band, choir and theater are housed in space that either uses the theater or adjoins it. Theater will have expanded space in the new black box theater. Music programs will move into the new music wing once it’s completed. 
 
When the music programs move to the new spaces, their current rooms will be remodeled for the fine arts program that currently occupies spaces in a different area of the South Building,
 
The board meeting followed a Thursday, May 30, Committee of the Whole meeting where board members listened for more than an hour to members of the faculty and public address the need for the arts additions. 

Speakers included former District 233 board members Jeanne McInerney-Lubeck who came in from out of town to support the project, and former board member Jody Scariano. About 10 years ago, they began a push for the creation of the Music, Visual and Performing Arts Academy (MVP) that gives students a special curriculum that can help launch their college careers in the arts. 
 
H-F students audition or present portfolios at the end of their sophomore year to be considered for admission into the MVP Academy. The MVP program will have its first graduates in June 2020.
 
Designing a designated space for the arts started in 2017 when DLA Architects first presented a plan. It went through several revisions and was presented to the Finance Committee in May 2018, but members Steve Anderson and Tim Wenckus failed to approve the plan. Scariano voted to move forward.
 
Anderson said Sunday he was never against the plan, but thought it should be “fully vetted with all the stakeholders. I just wanted the process to be wide open.”
 
At a Finance Committee meeting in May, board members asked Edward Wright of DLA Architects to make cuts to the proposal in an effort to save money after bids came in higher than expected. 
 
Wright said the revision shaved about $1 million off the cost. The majority of those funds were saved by eliminating the relocation of the graphic arts program into the new fine arts wing, the deletion of a sound recording studio for the music department and a redesign that eliminated a gallery for student art.
 
Wright said Cosgrove Construction will now move forward to hire subcontractors for the H-F job. The hope is to have the shells for the additions enclosed by the time winter hits so construction crews can work indoors.

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