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Article updated: 2/19/2014 5:09 AM

Dist. 300 considers new central office to help Oak Ridge students

Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 is considering moving its headquarters to Algonquin near Jacobs High School. That would free up the current central office for Oak Ridge School students.

Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 is considering moving its headquarters to Algonquin near Jacobs High School. That would free up the current central office for Oak Ridge School students.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

Oak Ridge School in Carpentersville would move into the existing Community Unit District 300 central office under a plan the school board will consider next week. Children’s Home and Aid Society has bought the Oak Ridge building and plans on building a preschool there.

Oak Ridge School in Carpentersville would move into the existing Community Unit District 300 central office under a plan the school board will consider next week. Children's Home and Aid Society has bought the Oak Ridge building and plans on building a preschool there.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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Depending on the outcome of a school board vote Monday, Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 could move its headquarters to neighboring Algonquin, a location an official says will better serve the district's entire population.

"The building is called the 'central office' but is far from central to the community that we serve," district spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said in an email.

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District officials have unveiled a transition plan that involves constructing an administration building on property it owns near Jacobs High School. The project is estimated to cost $5 million to $5.5 million.

To make it happen, other relocations are under consideration that involve moving students at Oak Ridge School in Carpentersville to the central office that would be converted, and sending central office staffers to offices at Hampshire High School until the new headquarters opens in December.

"If you look at the alternatives, there really aren't any, and we're doing what I think is best educationally for the kids and the district," board member Joe Stevens said. "And I'm going to have no qualms voting to support it."

There are a lot of moving parts.

The district sold Oak Ridge, an alternative school in Carpentersville composed of several trailers, to the Children's Home and Aid Society, which will build a preschool on the site. The sale closed last week for $750,000.

Under the proposal, renovations would begin at District 300's central office in April and students at Oak Ridge would attend class there starting in July. Renovations are expected to cost $1.2 million and the proceeds from the school's sale will help cover it, Stevens said.

The district also has applied for a $50,000 construction grant through the Illinois State Board of Education.

The new Oak Ridge would offer 10 classrooms for a maximum of 130 students.

In the current Oak Ridge building, there are only six classrooms for a maximum of 78 students. There is no cafeteria or gymnasium, and the new location would allow access to adjacent Carpentersville Middle School for gym class and hot lunches.

Starting April 1 the central office staff would move to Hampshire while construction on the new headquarters begins.

Waiting for the next superintendent to take the reins of the district before bringing this to a vote wasn't an option, Stevens said.

"We have to make the decision based upon Oak Ridge now in order for (students) to have a place to go," Stevens said, adding that discussions have been underway for at least six months. "So everything dominoes."

The Carpentersville central office has been in use for at least 25 years, Strupeck said. Before that, she said, the district was based in West Dundee.

The new administration building, proposed for Golden Eagle and Harnish drives, would house all the central office staff under one roof -- they are now spread among the main office and several schools.

Officials have proposed three ways to finance the building:

• Issuing debt certificates, which are interest-bearing bonds. They do not require a referendum, Stevens said.

• Using an anticipated $35 million to $60 million windfall from the state's capital development board. The board has owed the district this money for 10 years as a partial reimbursement for repairing school buildings, Stevens said.

• Funding the project on a deficit until the state windfall comes through.

LEAD 300, the union that represents the district's 1,350 certified staff members are thrilled about the potential Oak Ridge move but reluctant to support the proposed new headquarters.

"We're wanting to make sure they fulfill their other obligations to repair or fix other buildings in order to better the environment for our students," union President Mike Williamson said. "It's my hope that through the building of this, they're able to also make more space across the district for ... lowering class sizes."

The district, the sixth largest in the state, encompasses 118 square miles, 15 communities and four counties.

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