June 2001 Board Meeting

Gifford Park Association Board Meeting
Thursday, June 7, 2001

In Attendance: Deb Aguinaga, Karen Bach, Joe Becerra, Jean and Paul Bednar, Mark Billings, Bill Briska, Rork Coon, Dan and Pat Miller, Mark and Glenna Preradovic, and John Cooper – Elgin Academy Headmaster

The meeting was called to order by Paul Bednar at 7:18 PM.

Presentation on Elgin Academy

Bill Briska began the presentation by briefly stating his opinions on the Academy and how it is a nice addition to the neighborhood. Introductions took place between the board and John Cooper. John Cooper and his family moved from Wichita, KS in July of 2000. They now live in the 700 block of Douglas. John briefly explained the history of his home, and commented on how pleased he has been with the area.

John Cooper explained that the objective of the presentation was to share the tentative vision of the Elgin Academy campus, and how these visions are consistent with those of GPA and other Elgin neighborhood groups. John then briefly discussed the history of the Academy. Currently, the Academy is a day school that serves preschool (3 yrs) to 12th grade. The Academy does have admission standards. The Academy has small class sizes emphasizing on individual attention, educationally, character wise, and athletically. Most of the students go on to high ranking universities. John stated that the Academy has gone through some financially difficult times in the past, but they are now in a positive position. They have no debt, and enrollment is growing. Last year, John challenged the board to review the strategic plan, and challenged them to rewrite it on two pages. The plan is divided into three parts: academic, enrollment growth, and facilities. John proceeded to explain the academic program in detail.

Enrollment Growth

The baseline growth of the academy is about 15 students per year. The current enrollment is 355 students. Capacity at the present conditions is the low 400’s. In response to Karen Bach’s question, John stated that the planned enrollment for 2001 is 370 students. The long-term goal is to add a little more capacity, but not to exceed the upper 400’s. Most of the growth is in the grades lower than 4th. The number one reason for growth is corporate relocation. In response to the future Boeing relocation to the Chicago land area, John has written a letter to all of the independent schools in Seattle informing them of the benefits of Elgin Academy. The tuition range is $7,000-$12,000. For public schools, the best comparison figure is $11,000. The average class size is 15-17 students, as compared to 24 for Parochial, and 28-30 for public.

Facilities Plan

Last year there was a lot of talk about building a library and fines arts center, but not much talk about the campus. It was believed that the discussions should go back to square 1. The first topic was determining if the Academy is currently in the area that it needs to be. The Academy is located on 15 acres, with an additional 11 acres of playing fields on Franklin. The Academy Board agreed that the location was appropriate. Mark Billings asked John how many of the board members were from Elgin. John responded that the board, like the students, is from a mixed area. The next question asked was what should the campus look like 25 years from now. After this is determined, they can work backwards to determine how to get there. It was decided that a hub was needed near the classroom buildings. This hub would be a library, fine arts, and technology center. Phase two would consist of building a new gym, and eliminating the parking in the center of the campus. The parking would be moved to the perimeter. John has also talked to people regarding the commercial property on Kimball and Dundee. John believes this property probably wouldn’t be in the Academy’s best interest at this time. John has also spoken with the owners of the fire damaged home next to the Academy. The GPA board brought forth the benefits of purchasing the Kimball Street property, which include high visibility. Phase three would be to remodel the interior of Sears Hall. The theatre would be moved and replaced with offices. This is where new comers would have their first exposure, which would be nice because this is an impressive building. The ultimate plan would take 2 homes out that are architecturally out of sync with the area. The campus would end up as a pedestrian based, college like setting. The Academy has been working with Bruce Dahlquist on determining the architectural style of the new buildings. John believes that there is a long way to go with the drawings in order to get the buildings to match with the many different architectural styles of the campus. John then asked for GPA’s opinions as to what they would like to see if they were standing in the center of the campus 20 years from now. Dan Miller asked if the Academy can realistically finance the library/technology building. John replied that he believes they can. They have hired a consultant to look into the best options. Paul Bednar added that the initial architectural drawing of the building is not appropriate, as John had already stated. Paul asked that GPA be kept informed regarding any possible changes, including lighting. Bill Briska asked if they would be interested in purchasing properties on College Street. John replied only if they could come up with the right combination there. The Academy does not necessarily want to jump the street, or go that way. John added that a lot of different configurations for child pickup have already been evaluated. Mark Billings commented that he is pleased to see the plans, and the willingness of the Academy to be a community partner. John commented that the main thing he plans to take away is that GPA would like him to pursue the property at Kimball and Dundee. John added that GPA members should not hesitate to call with any questions or comments. The Academy would like to be a more active part of GPA. They have a vision that the Academy is something that everyone in Elgin is really proud of. In addition, the Academy would be willing to sell for a small price, or give away, 322 Kimball rather than just tearing it down. John left information on the home with the group. The board agreed to discuss it more in the future.


Deb reported that most of the porches are located on Division Street. There are also homes on Hilton Place, Chicago Street, and Liberty. Deb will be contacting people about organizing displays for the porches. Bill agreed to organize something from the Museum. Glenna Preradovic agreed to take pictures for the architectural treasure hunt. Brian Stark has agreed to pick up the snow cone and popcorn machines. Deb will be contacting Will Alexander, Raul Luis, Mike Alft, and possibly Sean Fried, about possible displays/entertainment. It was decided that a band might not be appropriate due to the small time allotted – maybe this would be better for a block party. Mark Billings block is still planning on a party for August. Glenna asked about bike decorating for the parade. Kevin Sosnowski’s porch was recommended. It was also recommended that Deb contact Marie Piraino about having the porch at 480 Division on Porchfest. Pat Miller asked if any of the porches are scheduled for a visit from the porch doctor. Possibly Sarosh and David Jurina could be set-up at Marie Piraino’s. Glenna asked for copies of the old treasure hunts so that she doesn’t duplicate any of the artifacts. Discussions ensued regarding the prizes for the treasure hunt. Paul Bednar made a motion to award $200 in prize money. Karen Bach seconded the motion. The details as to whether or not the prizes will be in cash or gift certificates are to be finalized by Deb.

Gifford Park

Mark Billings reported that the gazebo has been moved and quite a bit of activity has already taken place.

Elgin Little League

Paul Bednar brought up a proposal to donate monies to the Elgin Little League. Paul commented that GPA has not done this for several years. There are currently 2 little leagues associated with our neighborhood. One of them does not have a sponsor. Currently, the American Little League is selling coupons in order to raise money for a pitching machine. Jean Bednar added that the pitching machine costs $3000. Kids from our neighborhood play on the North fields. These fields are not as nice, and it is apparent that they do not get as much funding. Jean thought that maybe since we didn’t support them last year and this year we could give $500. Jean made a motion to donate $500. Dan Miller seconded the motion. The board discussed the amount in further detail. Rork Coon recommended that half of the monies go to a sponsorship and half to purchase coupons. It was added that the coupons could be given out at Porchfest.


Dan Miller reported that he is working on a salvage for 11 homes on Hammond Avenue, between Liberty and St. Charles. The City recently purchased the homes that are currently in a flood plain. The salvage should take place in the next few weeks.


Dan Miller made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded and passed.