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Article updated: 8/30/2012 4:24 PM

Gurnee District 56 leaves flood-prone building for new headquarters

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Gurnee Elementary District 56's administrative operations have moved from a flood-prone building to a new structure.

Superintendent John Hutton said District 56 started using the building on Gurnee's east side this week. The 6,500-square-foot edifice is adjacent to Spaulding School.

Hutton said Thursday he's excited about a teachers training room that was included in District 56's administration headquarters. The room will also host school board meetings. Teachers will have access to interactive whiteboards, a three-way projection system and movable, ergonomically correct furniture.

"Since we wanted to use the building as efficiently as possible, we combined the boardroom and the teacher training room," Hutton said. "With only one board meeting per month, it did not make a lot of sense to have the room vacant the rest of the month. Staff development is one of the pillars of our vision statement, and this new room gives us the opportunity to provide better staff development opportunities for our teachers."

Until this week, District 56 had been headquartered at flood-prone Gurnee Grade School on Kilbourne Road, a stone's throw from the Des Plaines River. Gurnee Grade School students will move into the renamed River Trail School on O'Plaine Road in January. River Trail students will switch to the new Prairie Trail School in Wadsworth in December.

As for the new administration center, project manager Charli Johnsos, of the Fanning Howey architecture firm in Park Ridge, said efficient layout strategies reduced the amount of space needed for District 56's employees.

"Combined with an energy-efficient design, this building will save money over the long run," Johnsos said.

Voters in November 2010 gave District 56 an overwhelming ballot-box victory by allowing $28.5 million to be borrowed for construction of the administration offices, Prairie Trail in Wadsworth and remodeling the renamed River Trail in Gurnee. River Trail had been called O'Plaine School.

Gurnee Grade School is scheduled for demolition next year. The Gurnee Park District will receive ownership of the 5-acre site after the school is gone.

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