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County of Lake v. Board of Education of Lake Bluff School Dist. No. 65

November 07, 2001

THE COUNTY OF LAKE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF LAKE BLUFF SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 65, LAKE COUNTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE (THE REGIONAL SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF LAKE COUNTY, INTERVENOR AND DEFENDANT-APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 00--OV--3360 Honorable Michael J. Fritz, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Callum.

Ordered published December 19, 2001.

THE COUNTY OF LAKE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF LAKE BLUFF SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 65, LAKE COUNTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE (THE REGIONAL SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF LAKE COUNTY, INTERVENOR AND DEFENDANT-APPELLEE).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 00--OV--3360 Honorable Michael J. Fritz, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Callum.

Plaintiff, the County of Lake (the County), sued defendant, the Board of Education of Lake Bluff School District No. 65, Lake County (the Board). The County alleged that, as to one of the Board's properties, the Board had violated the Lake County Building Code. The regional superintendent of schools of Lake County (the Superintendent) intervened as a defendant. Defendants moved for summary judgment (735 ILCS 5/2--1005 (West 2000)). They argued that the Board's use of the property subjected it to the Illinois Health/Life Safety Code for Public Schools (the Safety Code) (23 Ill. Adm. Code §180.10 et seq. (2000)) rather than the Lake County Building Code (the Building Code). The County cross-moved for summary judgment, making the opposite argument. In relevant part, the trial court granted defendants' motion. The County appeals, and we affirm.

The material facts are undisputed. Throughout the relevant period, the Board owned a building known as the West School. Until June 1993, the West School housed an elementary school. In July 1993, the Board leased portions of the building to two tenants: the Lake Bluff Park District (the Park District) and the Lake Bluff Village Children's Center (the Center). The Park District conducted recreational programs. The Center provided daycare for preschoolers, but it also conducted a program for students in the Board's district. Before and after school, the program provided activities for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The Board did not dictate the activities of the before- and after-school program. However, to support the program, the Board provided some equipment and gave the students free transportation between the Center and their schools. Furthermore, the Board charged the Center no rent; the Center merely paid utilities and made a contribution to the Board's "capital outlay fund" for the maintenance of the building. The program was available throughout the calendar year, though it was not as well attended in the summer as it was during the school year.

In June 1999, the Park District vacated the West School. At roughly the same time, Lakeview Community Church began renting the building's gymnasium for its Sunday services. In July 1999, the Board passed a resolution declaring that the West School was "presently unnecessary, unsuitable or inconvenient for a school or the uses of the District." In November 1999, because of dwindling enrollment in its programs, the Center vacated the West School.

In December 1999, after obtaining a permit from the Superintendent, the Board commenced a renovation of the West School. About the same time, Tiny Town, Inc., a private day-care provider, inquired about renting the building. The Board asked whether Tiny Town could conduct a before- and after-school program similar to the Center's, and Tiny Town said that it could. In April 2000, after the renovation was complete, Tiny Town began occupying a portion of the building and commenced its regular business, providing daycare for children ranging in age from six weeks to six years. Shields Township rented the remainder of the building and used it to house its administrative offices. The Superintendent had permitted both tenants to occupy the West School.

On April 25, 2000, the Board passed a resolution that stated as follows:

"Pursuant to Section 10--22.18b of the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/10--22.18b [(West 2000)]), the Board hereby establishes a before and after school program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade only at *** West School."

In June 2000, Tiny Town made available a before- and after-school program; however, the program would not begin in earnest until the fall. The Board would provide transportation. Tiny Town would be authorized to hire, pay, and fire the program's teachers, and Tiny Town would collect fees from the program's students. The program would be coordinated with the school district's curriculum, and only the district's students would be eligible to participate.

Although various tenants occupied the West School after 1993, the Board continued to use the building for certain purposes. First, the Board stored its property on 10% to 15% of the building's floor space. Such property included chairs, desks, shelves, and tables, which were distributed to the district's schools when a need arose. Second, roughly twice per month, the Board used the West School's gymnasium for school-sponsored activities, such as intramural sports. For the most part, such events occurred in the West School's gym as often as they did in the other gyms in the district.

In May 2000, the County sued the Board, alleging as follows in count I of its complaint. The County had adopted as its Building Code the 1993 Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) National Building Code. Under that code, the Board was required to obtain a change-of-occupancy permit before allowing Tiny Town to operate its "child care facility." Such a permit would not be issued until the West School was equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, which the Building Code required in any building containing a "child care facility." The County asked the court to fine the Board for violating the Building Code and to enjoin the occupancy of the West School until the Board obtained the necessary permit.

In count II, the County alleged that the Board's renovation of the West School constituted an "alteration" as defined by the Building Code. Therefore, the Board was required to obtain another permit from the County. The County sought the same ...


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