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updated: 10/29/2013 12:17 AM

Dist. 41 talks cost, long term of facilities plan

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As a more concrete cost was presented for proposed new classrooms in Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41, conversation at Monday's board meeting steered to the more ambitious second phase of the facilities project.

The price tag of the phase one plan to add four 900-square-foot flexible classrooms each at Franklin, Lincoln, Churchill and Forest Glen was presented at an estimate just under $15.6 million, around $13 million of that total "hard costs," construction and site work, with roughly $2 million "soft costs" such as fixtures and furnishings.

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The target goal is for building additions to begin at Franklin and potentially Lincoln by summer of 2014, with completion over the next 2-3 summers with the intent to decrease the district's reliance on portable classrooms; the district currently uses 22 portables in its elementary schools alone.

Jack Hayes from FQC Construction Management reiterated that the only risk to the timeline, and a variable to how much is required to spend on the site, centers around stormwater permitting review and approval.

The administration's recommendation to the board is to use no more than $7 million out of the district's fund reserves, with remaining cost to be paid through alternative funding.

Phase 2, which superintendent Paul Gordon stressed is still "conceptual" at this point, centers around building a new elementary school at the Spalding site -- which would require a referendum.

"The beauty of what is presented so far is even if the board sees the wisdom in the plan, but a referendum doesn't pass, our current plan still gets a long ways down the road in reducing our reliance on portables," Gordon said. "The second phase, those are big conversations that still need to happen."

Gordon emphasized that even if a new school is built, the four new classrooms at each school will be needed to allow flexibility and options, including an all-day kindergarten, which he preached the importance of to help promote early literacy and in part to help bring Glen Ellyn students back into Glen Ellyn schools.

"How do we bring more kids back into Glen Ellyn?" Gordon said. "I believe full-day kindergarten is an important piece."

Gordon and Board Secretary Dean Elger spoke of the need for an outreach program to help the community buy into why the plan is being proposed. Board Vice President John Kenwood said an upfront approach is needed, noting "when I look at phase two, it's an asking for money phase."

"The plan has to include a referendum if you're going to get through phase two of the project," Kenwood said, "and it has to be part of the conversation."

"We can't get to phase two without doing phase one," said board member Patrick Escalante. "We're trying to solution phase two already."

In the immediate, the board is expected to vote to go to bid on phase one of the project at its Nov. 11 meeting.

"The question is, are we prepared to move?" board member Joe Bochenski said. "We'll find that out Nov. 11."

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