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updated: 10/27/2011 4:42 PM

District 200 considers plans for new preschool

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  • Jefferson Preschool is at the center of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200's capital development plan, with two ideas floated that would demolish the existing facility and build a new one.

       Jefferson Preschool is at the center of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200's capital development plan, with two ideas floated that would demolish the existing facility and build a new one.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials will consider demolishing the existing Jefferson Preschool to make way for a new $16 million facility. No timeline has been set but officials asked staff to look into the matter more closely.

       Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials will consider demolishing the existing Jefferson Preschool to make way for a new $16 million facility. No timeline has been set but officials asked staff to look into the matter more closely.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Just as Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officially unloads the former Hubble Middle School site, a new building may be on its way.

District officials say they're considering replacing Jefferson Preschool with a $16 million facility that would provide updated amenities and be closely aligned with programming needs that include several special education classes.

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The facility would be built at the school site at 130 N. Hazelton Ave. The existing building would be razed once the new one is open.

School board President Rosemary Swanson stressed discussions are preliminary but said having a plan in place would help the district apply for grants.

The school board also asked staff members to present options to move district administrative offices to the new building. Swanson said she expects an update early next year.

"It's exploratory at this point," she said. "But something has to be done with Jefferson."

Jefferson has long been on the district's list of buildings to upgrade, but it was put on the back burner once the disposition of Hubble took priority in 2002.

Swanson said the district has started long-range analysis of its 19 schools and will work to create a priority list based on urgency. As part of that study, a committee recommended a new building be built at Jefferson.

As it stands now, the 53-year-old, 26,507-square-foot building is outdated and no longer provides an adequate learning environment for its 144 students, Swanson said.

A report presented Wednesday included details of a 52,744-square-foot building that would cost $16.6 million.

An alternative plan would exceed that total and move administrative offices to the new building, leaving the current offices on Park Avenue to the facility and technology services department.

"This is probably the last building we'll build in this district (for a while)," she said. "We started thinking, 'Is there an opportunity for something else to go there as well?'"

The report offered several options to pay for the project, including state and federal grants, a possible referendum question and performance contracting.

"Jefferson would be the next one but we are well aware of the economics of it," Swanson said. "We are looking for ways in the near term that would not involve putting it on the backs of the taxpayers."

One option includes selling the property that now contains the old Woodland School in Warrenville. The school closed in 1978 and now serves as a makeshift storage facility for the district.

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