Taft LSC updated on sports field; community meeting set for July 17
by BRIAN NADIG
The planned outdoor sports facility at Taft High School should encourage more local students to enroll at the Northwest Side school, according to Taft principal Mark Grishaber.
“We’re losing a lot of them to Notre Dame (in Niles, which) benefits by them playing their championship games there,” Grishaber said at the July 13 meeting of the Taft Local School Council.
Taft will start hosting grade-school football league championship games, which will allow the school to better showcase its facilities, curriculum and athletic program, Grishaber said.
Plans call for construction of the $3.5 million facility to start this summer and be completed by mid-November. The turf field will be designed to accommodate football, lacrosse and soccer.
“It’s not going to be a stadium. It’s going to a multi-purpose field,” Grishaber said. “They’ll be lined in different colors so we can play all three sports.”
There also will be spectator stands for 1,200 people, a scoreboard with digital messaging, a press box, lights, a public address system, a water fountain, and a chain-link fence around the facility along with space for a possible concession stand in the future, Grishaber said.
Permanent washrooms are not planned, but portable units will be used for large events, he said.
The field also will feature a large “T” in the middle, and a committee will look into naming the field, perhaps in honor of a graduate who played sports at the school, Grishaber said.
In response to concerns expressed from an LSC member, Grishaber said that the school will work with the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District to make sure some of the parking restrictions near the school are not enforced when large crowds are expected. He said that the school already does this for its open house night and for days there are multiple events.
Due to the construction of the field, parking passes will not be available for seniors so that there is parking for the workers and construction trucks, Grishaber. “We have to bite the bullet for a little (bit of time),” he said.
LSC parent member Deanna Shoss recommended that the school look into displaying student artwork on the outside of the construction fences. “We have a great art program,” she said.
The school is hosting a community meeting about the field at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, to address concerns of residents who live near Taft. The field will be located near an alley which runs behind homes on Nagle Avenue.
“I’m getting a little pushback from the community,” Grishaber said, adding that he would have questions if lived next to the school.
The lights will be positioned so that they shine toward the field and away from the homes, Grishaber said. Also, the first row of the stands will be ground level instead of several feet off the ground, reducing the overall height, he said.
The field will have a drainage system which will be able to retain about 500,000 gallons of storm water, releasing a little at a time, Grishaber said. “If we have that one in a 100-years flood, it would actually help (conditions),” he said.
Taft also is receiving four new tennis courts as part of the project.
In other news, the school’s projected enrollment for next school year is between 3,400 and 3,450 students, up at least 60 students from last school year. The school system is expected to announce later this year that the new school being constructed at 4071 N. Oak Park Ave. will be used as a freshman campus for Taft, the most overcrowded school in Chicago.
Starting in September, the LSC will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month during the school year, except in January when there is no meeting scheduled. The council also is seeking to fill a parent vacancy and will be advertising for applicants in September.
The council re-elected parent member Kathy Fern to a second term as chairwoman. In addition, parent member Kristina Estrada will be vice chair, and staff representative Mary Kay Cobb will be secretary, and community member Anita Bernacchi will be the council’s Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act officer.
Also on the council are parent members Jessica Ayala, Monica Moore and Shoss, community member Goran Davidovac, faculty members Marianne Villasenor and Chad Nishibayashi, and student representative Liam O’Shea. Grishaber also is a voting member of the council.
It also was reported that the student instructional fee will be $450, which covers class workbooks, school newspaper, miscellaneous teacher copying expenses and some facility upgrade costs, science and visual arts labs, and technology and performing arts fees. Graduation fees, locks and gym uniforms are extra.
Also, Mark Madden was named Taft’s athletic director, and Ryan Glowacz and Melissa Hendler were each recently appointed assistant principal.