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updated: 6/12/2013 5:28 AM

Shuttered Mundelein school may see new life

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  • Lincoln School on Route 176 in Mundelein was built in 1894 as a two-room country school. Hawthorn District 73 may lease an addition on the northeast side in the coming school year.

      Lincoln School on Route 176 in Mundelein was built in 1894 as a two-room country school. Hawthorn District 73 may lease an addition on the northeast side in the coming school year.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer


Children may again attend classes at Lincoln School in Mundelein this fall, though the newcomers will be from neighboring Hawthorn District Elementary 73.

The Vernon Hills-based district wants to move its early childhood and pre-K programs to Lincoln, about four miles away. It is part of a continuing effort to best use its facilities in light of increasing enrollment, officials said.

"Our district is what I would call at functional capacity," Superintendent Nick Brown said. "In our buildings, we need some extra space."

Mundelein Elementary District 75 closed Lincoln -- then one of four schools in the district -- after the 2010-11 school year as a cost-saving measure. There has been periodic interest in leasing sections of the building, but the only activity has been a district talent show.

"It's been two years, but we've maintained the building in good condition," Superintendent Cynthia Heidorn said. She noted utilities are not zoned, meaning they have to be turned on for the entire structure for it to be used.

The proposed agreement, approved by the District 73 board on Monday and scheduled to be considered by the District 75 board next week, is renewable annually for a total of three years. Either can opt out by Feb. 1 of a given year.

District 73 will pay $160,000 a year to lease the northeast addition to the facility, which includes 12 classrooms and amounts to a little less than half the building. District 73 also will reimburse District 75 for utilities, last estimated at about $53,000.

Brown, who is completing his first year at Hawthorn, said the school board for several years has been considering ways to add space. Enrollment has grown modestly, with about 50 new students this year and the same or more expected in 2013-14. Offerings such as special education services also have increased, putting space at a premium.

Some opportunities in existing buildings in Vernon Hills came with hefty build-out costs, which wasn't an issue at Lincoln, Brown said.

"It's only four miles down the road and about a 10-minute drive," he said. "It's a school, so you're not trying to retrofit."

District 73 provides transportation now and will continue to do so to Lincoln.

The move will affect about 110 to 130 children ages 3 to 5. Pre-K occupies three classrooms at Aspen Elementary, and early childhood has three at Elementary North.

Unlike regular grade classes, relocating those programs won't impact programming, Brown said. Bringing the two together also will be a benefit by expanding program options with the additional classrooms.

"I think it's always a happy thing for a school to be active and have students involved," Heidorn said.

The classrooms at Aspen will be absorbed by new students, and at Elementary North by new students and programs, such as instructional intervention, Brown said.

Another wrinkle is Aspen is the only district school to have met annual yearly progress standards. As such, it is the only alternative for parents who want their children to transfer to a school that has met the standard, a choice required by law.

"If they want to go (to) Aspen, they can and we have the space," Brown said.

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