After spending at least 25 years operating out of Carpentersville, Community Unit District 300 is packing up and moving its headquarters to Algonquin.
By a unanimous vote Monday night -- and amid criticism from three parents -- the school board approved erecting a new administration building estimated to cost between $5 million and $5.5 million on property it owns near Jacobs High School at Golden Eagle and Harnish drives.
In a related move the same night, the board also approved moving Oak Ridge School, a Carpentersville alternative school housed in trailers, to the existing central office, which will undergo renovations to accommodate a maximum of 130 students. That project, due to start in April and end in July, is estimated to cost around $1.2 million.
Officials said this move has been 17 years in the making and gives students and staff more space.
Meanwhile, the 32,200-square-foot administration building will house 100 staff members and have the ability to accommodate at least 150 visitors, documents show. Construction is expected to begin in April.
Right now, the central office staff is spread among the Carpentersville headquarters, Hampshire High School, Carpentersville Middle School, Westfield Community School in Algonquin and the deLacey Family Education Center in West Dundee, an inefficient situation, Trustee Joe Stevens said.
"We're using this as an opportunity, with the Oak Ridge move, to bring them together like we've always wanted and put them in their own facility," Stevens said in an earlier interview. "Businesses run better when your central office is together and not spread out all over God's creation. This is a school district and it operates like a business."
The three parents who spoke out against the project asked the board to wait until it heard more feedback from the community, saying the plan was poorly communicated to residents. Board President Anne Miller and trustees Susie Kopacz and Kathleen Burley acknowledged the district could have done a better job getting the word out to residents.
"What we've done wasn't enough," Miller said.
Carpentersville resident Billita Jacobsen also said the district should address various structural issues at Lakewood School before it spends millions on a new administration building. A staff member is scheduled to visit Lakewood Tuesday morning to check into her complaints.
"Shouldn't the students come first?" Jacobsen asked.
Records show the district spent six months reviewing 23 other properties in eight towns for the administration center.
But the board rejected them for various reasons, including parking issues, too much or too little square footage in the proposed buildings, the expense of securing land and more.
While the idea of constructing a building to be the central office is new, the concept of having the district's staff all together has been around since 2006, Stevens said.
The transition plan calls for the central office staff at the current headquarters to move to Hampshire High School until the new building opens in December.
After using $1.2 million from the capital projects budget, $750,000 from the proceeds of the Oak Ridge sale and a $50,000 construction grant from the Illinois State Board of Education, the district would need roughly $5 million more to pay for both projects, Finance Director Susan Harkin said.
The district hopes to fund the remainder with an anticipated $35 million to $60 million the state has owed the district for 10 years. The state is expected to release the money within the next six to nine months, Harkin said.
Issuing debt certificates -- interest bearing bonds that do not require a referendum -- would be a last resort, she said.