Avoca School District 37 will not renovate the Avoca Center, as decided by an unanimous school board vote at the December 15, 2016 Board of Education Meeting. Due to the large financial cost of renovating the building, the Board did not feel that it was a fiscally responsible decision. The district would be required to sell approximately $7 million worth of bonds, which would cost the district about $9 million to $10 million after factoring in interest.
Avoca Center is situated on a little more than four acres adjacent to Marie Murphy Middle School and is no longer in use by the District. The district currently leases the building to Arlyn School, a therapeutic day school, and One Hope United, a daycare and preschool. The renovation would require the district to lock in tenants with a 20-year lease just to cover the cost of the loan. Also, the renovation costs might have potentially increased taxes for residents.
Avoca Center is in need of major repairs as it stands with aging boilers, tanks and pipes dating from the building’s construction in 1957. The buildings that house Marie Murphy Middle School and Avoca West Elementary School also were built in 1957. Those buildings also require upgrades, and the district wants to prioritize the buildings it currently uses.
Avoca’s current tenants have been notified of the decision and served a 12-month termination notice, with an effective termination date of December 31, 2017. The district is not necessarily stating that the tenants must vacate within 12 months, but rather that the current lease will expire in that time frame. The district may decide to extend the tenants’ occupancy for a few months beyond the December 2017 date to help the tenants with their transition.
The district is currently revisiting many options, which have been given new perspective based on the comments and questions proposed by the community. The Board is still considering the potential sale of the property for the development of single family homes, but is also in discussion with the Wilmette Park District about a potential mutually beneficial option for the Avoca Center property. The district has no intention of selling the Avoca Park that is behind the building. Those fields are utilized by Marie Murphy School for physical education classes, sports teams and school gatherings. The Park District also leases the fields for sports teams.
The Avoca School District 37 Board of Education endeavours to base their decision on the best possible outcome for the students and their responsibility to the Avoca community.