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Article posted: 11/16/2012 5:30 AM

Gurnee Elementary District 56 preparing for debut of Wadsworth school

By Bob Susnjara

Gurnee Elementary District 56's new school in Wadsworth remains on target for a January debut, but the effort won't be as simple as opening the doors to students and teachers.

Superintendent John Hutton said the creation of new bus routes and other logistics are part of the equation before Prairie Trail School opens. The shuffling of students from two buildings will occur as a result of the new Wadsworth school.

"You can't just say on Thursday, 'Well, guess what? Tomorrow we're going to switch the bus schedules,'" Hutton said during a District 56 board meeting this week. "You know, it takes a lot of time and there has to be a lot of communicating. And we've got a plan to do that. But it's going to take us several weeks to get that information out."

Prairie Trail will have a 600-student capacity for grades three through five. Construction manager John Eallonardo of Addison-based Frederick Quinn Corp. said the new school should be substantially completed by Dec. 1.

Roughly 450 pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade at flood-prone Gurnee Grade School on Kilbourne Road will move in January to the renamed River Trail School in the village on O'Plaine Road, officials said. About 540 River Trail students, in grades three through five, will switch at the same time to the new Prairie Trail School in Wadsworth.

As part of the package, Gurnee Grade is scheduled for demolition next year. The Gurnee Park District will receive ownership of the 5-acre site near the Des Plaines River after the school is gone.

Hutton said the plan is to move Gurnee Grade's furniture and other equipment to River Trail during the Christmas holiday break. Gurnee Grade has been a choice school, with features such as full-day kindergarten and multi-age classrooms for some grades.

"We've got several moves to make here," Hutton said. "I can tell you right now the movers have told us that Gurnee Grade is going to take three to four days. So that means it's not going to be something we can do over a weekend."

Eallonardo said there will be a phased-in move to Prairie Trail in Wadsworth. He said the plan is for students to explore the new school and bring in some belongings in late December.

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

Prairie Trail will span 90,000 square feet on part of a 70-acre site off Wadsworth Road.

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