Triton College chairman pushing $50 million campus upgrade

Triton College’s board chairman says college campus is in need of a face lift and is hoping $50 million in bonds will help do the job.

Mark Stephens, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, said the money is needed to revitalize the buildings on campus, which he says have seen better days.

“Every window in this place is 50 years old,” he said.

Replacing every window on campus is just one of the many projects the money, if approved by the board, would go to pay for. Board members have been in the community seeking input and explaining to residents what they would like to do with the funds.

On July 8, they were at Riverside Brookfield High School, and have two more community meetings scheduled in Oak Park and Franklin Park. Stephens said if the bond money is approved, there will be no tax increase needed to pay them off.

“There is nothing forecast to raise taxes to pay these bonds,” he said.

Still, he says over the last five years the school has progressively increased tuition.

“But our tuition is extremely affordable,” he said. “There is no anticipated tuition increase as a result of the bond action.”

Along with new windows, the money would be used to add more technology to classrooms. They bakery program would be expanded, as well as the school’s hospitality program and the facilities associated with it.

The college’s Cernan Earth and Space Center would be upgraded as well as the Cox Auditorium. He hopes the upgrades to the school’s financial aid offices and administrative offices can be streamlined to make it more of a “one-stop shop” for students.

All of the renovations would take about three years to complete and the school’s administrators are working on a timeline in terms of what gets done and where on campus. Stephens said the last thing they don’t want to do is to disrupt classes while work is being done.

“These projects have one main focus; improve the students’ educational experience at Triton College,” he said.

Still, there is a process before the board can move forward with their plans.

The last two informational meetings regarding the bonds will take place at East Leyden High School, 3400 Rose St., Franklin Park at 7 p.m. July 24 and Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., Oak Park at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5.

The board plans to hold one last public meeting at Triton’s campus Sept. 16. At their Sept. 23 meeting, the board plans to vote on the bonds.

If the sale is approved, construction work will soon follow — but there’s no timeline set yet.

“We want a revitalized, renewed and revived Triton College,” he said.

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