New performing arts center at Richards moves forward

  • Written by Michelle Zalesny

district 218 photo 4-20

Photo by Michelle Zalesny

The board congratulates Larry Harris and Karen Burmeister for their service during the District 218 School Board meeting on April 10.


Progress on the new performing arts center that will be built at Richards High School in Oak Lawn is well under way.

The arts center project was discussed briefly at the District 218 School Board meeting on April 10. The board rejected the original construction bids last month, after they came in several million dollars above the architects’ original estimates. The arts center is being redesigned with DLA Architects to bring the cost back down to the original budget.

The board hopes to re-bid the project soon.

Secretary Karen Burmeister and member Larry Harris also attended their last official board meeting this month, receiving clocks as gifts for their service. Burmeister has served the community high school district board for 10 years. Harris joined the board in 2009.

Taking their new seats on the District 218 Community School Board will be William 'Bill' Christian and Cindy Bartczak.

The Cook County Board of Elections results showed that Christian won the election in Harris’ Sub-District 7 with 70.19 percent of the votes (1,891). Bartczak won unopposed in Burmeister's Sub-District 2. Burmeister chose not to run for re-election.

Board members Randy Heuser and Thomas Kosowski, president, were unopposed in the consolidated election.

“Apart from serving on this board, Mrs. Burmeister has volunteered much of her time as a member of the education committee,” said Superintendent Dr. Ty Harting. “She also was a trustee and the president of District 218 and the Friends of District 218 Foundation, where she helped raised thousands of dollars for college scholarships and future grants. Mr. Harris has been a lead member of the district facilities committee and has given an untold number of hours in making sure the district spends its money prudently so that our students, staff, and communities can have access to the finest high schools possible,” added Harting, who thanked them for their kindness and generosity.

After the board congratulated students and faculty who received awards that evening, Harris and Burmeister expressed their gratitude with deepest admiration for their community, students and fellow board members.

“I just wanted to thank the community for having elected me two times to serve in this position, the administration, the staff, and all the support you’ve given me to make my job a little easier and more successful,” said Harris. “I truly hope that the students of our district use all the resources that we’ve provided. I also would like to wish my fellow board members all the success and remember that a well-educated student will become a good citizen and a great person.”

“I truly enjoyed serving the community, administration, staff, and students in this fine district,” said Burmeister. “We have some of the best students around with the biggest hearts and great potential to succeed. Whatever success means to them, it is my hope that this board, my successor, and future board (members) serve with honor and dignity to serve all of our students with the students’ best interest in mind.”

Kosowski also brought up new seat belt legislation being supported by Secretary of State Jesse White. House Bill 3377, sponsored by state Rep. Lou Lang (D-16th), would require three-point seat belts on school buses in Illinois. The bill passed the House Transportation Vehicles and Safety Committee and now moves to the full House of Representatives.

“Hopefully it will get moving along, maybe with a little help from the community,” said Harris, who has been an advocate for seat belts on school buses. “Call your rep up. Let them know what you think. There’s nothing better than a phone call. Let’s hope it passes.”