Sycamore High School building could ‘age out,’ says District 427 superintendent

Steve Wilder, superintendent of Sycamore School District 427, makes his remarks Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce State of the Community Address in the DeKalb County Community Foundation Freight Room.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore High School could be near the end of its days, as Sycamore Community School District 427 officials have begun discussing how to deal with what Superintendent Steve Wilder said architects refer to as a “Frankenstein building.”

While speaking this week at Sycamore Chamber of Commerce’s 2024 State of the Community Address, Wilder said architects consider Sycamore High School a “Frankenstein building” because a number of renovations and extensions have been added onto the building since the school opened in 1961.

Wilder said he and the district’s Board of Education have started conversations about the long term future of Sycamore High School.

“It may not happen in my time, but we know that there’s going to have to be significant facility work that’s going to have to happen in the coming years. What I don’t want to happen is that we put off that conversation until it has to be done,” Wilder said.

Wilder said the district has done everything it can to take good care of Sycamore High School, but tens of millions of dollars worth of work is needed at the school in the future.

“We’ve invested a lot in the high school, but we’ve invested kind of behind the walls, the plumbing, the infrastructure, the heating and cooling; and while that’s improved the environment for our students, when you drive up to our high school you see the 1961 facade that is the original part of the high school,” Wilder said.

When asked what needs to be done to the facility, aside from updating the 63-year-old facade, Wilder said his goal is “to avoid putting Band-Aids on things.”

Regardless of the investments already made, he said officials expect the high school building to become obsolete at some point in the future.

“We can continue to invest in the existing building that has a sound structure, but at some point we know that that building is going to age out, so we’re having conversations about how we can do that right now.”

Sycamore Community School District’s administrative building, 245 W. Exchange St., also is in need of significant levels of upkeep, Wilder said. However, he said he’s not as interested in investing in a new administrative facility as he is in a new academic space.

Wilder said he’d prefer to invest in a facility for students instead of one used exclusively by administrators, and said district officials are on the look out for existing office space that could house the district’s administration.

Solving for this problem is the biggest challenge the district presently faces, Wilder said.

“We’re going to take advantage of every resource that we can, but just know that facility work and financing that facility work is probably two of the biggest challenges right now,” Wilder said.

Have a Question about this article?