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Next steps for D-41 facility work could include new Spalding school

Published: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 1:32 p.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn District 41 Board of Education members began looking at how proposed changes to facilities will align with long-range planning at a meeting Nov. 25.

Board members previously authorized district staff members to move forward with the bid process to build 16 classrooms across the district’s four elementary schools for an estimated cost of about $15.6 million. This project would be the first phase of District 41’s facility plans.

Bids for the classroom work that can be done this summer likely will go before the board for approval in March.

While the additional spaces will lessen District 41’s reliance on portable classrooms, the next phase of facility planning would involve moving all elementary students into brick-and-mortar buildings.

More detailed plans will be developed in the coming months, but initial ideas include building a new elementary school at the site of the former Spalding School. This could help correct the size of other elementaries and return most of the district’s special education students who had been studying elsewhere to their home schools.

Phase two also could include introducing full-day kindergarten.

Because it is undecided what phase two will involve, cost estimates are not yet available.

“This is just an administrative thinking that we needed to put in front of you to see how phase one and phase two could possibly work together, but we know phase two is very conceptual in nature,” Superintendent Paul Gordon said.

While phase one would add four classrooms to each of the existing elementary schools, phase two could take that work a step further with additional expansions and reconfigurations, such as increasing the size of the cafeterias at Churchill, Forest Glen and Abraham Lincoln elementary schools.

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School wouldn’t see many changes as part of phase two, although the district could consider making improvements to the cafeteria, said Ron Richardson, vice president with FGM Architects, the firm working with the district on facility planning.

Lincoln Elementary School would involve the most significant phase two work because the central core of the school would need to be reconfigured in light of the classroom additions.

By the end of phase two, student population totals are projected to be 600 at Churchill and 450 at Franklin, Forest Glen and Lincoln. The school on the former Spalding site would have a core student population of 450 as well, but if other students are located there, such as those who are part of early childhood programs, the school could accommodate an enrollment of 600 students.

Although changes to Hadley Junior High School had been mentioned in the past as part of phase two, the discussion Nov. 25 focused solely on the elementary schools. Plans for Hadley will be developed in the future.

The Board of Education expects to discuss facility planning and prioritization in more detail at a workshop in January.

“Now we need to sit down and say, ‘What’s the priority?’” board Vice President John Kenwood said. “Because otherwise, phase two could look very different.”

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