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updated: 8/28/2014 9:47 PM

Glen Ellyn Park District won't provide land for District 41 school

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By Safiya Merchant
smerchant@dailyherald.com

If Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 officials decide to build a new school, it won't be on park district land, officials say.

Leaders from both agencies met recently to brainstorm possible locations for a new school, but park officials made it clear they won't make any of their open space available.

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"The park district believes that it would not be within the scope of our mission at this time to sacrifice open space for the purpose of building a new school," park officials wrote on their website.

Dave Harris, the park district's executive director, said District 41 requested the meeting to discuss possible sites. They discussed multiple options, including using land at Ackerman and Newton parks.

"While we were extremely skeptical and reluctant that either of those sites would be conducive, we were open-minded to looking at the options if they were going to be mutually beneficial to the park district and the community and then ultimately the school district as well," Harris said.

In its own statement, District 41 said the meeting was a chance to "see if there were any synergies that the two entities could capture by partnering on land that would benefit the entire community."

"The school and park district both believe that all ideas should and must be vetted," according to the District 41 statement.

The conversation became public when District 41 accidentally posted the audio of one of its closed meetings on its website. In that audio, school board members "recapped" the discussion with the park district.

District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon said he brought forward a recommendation last year that the school board pursue a two-phase plan to address its space needs.

The first phase of the recommendation, which already is being implemented, called for building classroom additions.

The second phase, if approved, would involve construction of a new elementary school.

"It's just really important to know that the board wanted to vet all ideas around land and that's what a quality board should be doing," he said.

Gordon said board members want to eliminate all portable classrooms in the district, make sure their schools are serving the proper number of students and possibly implement all-day kindergarten.

Chief Communications Officer Erika Krehbiel said a few decisions need to be made before the school district moves forward.

"There are decisions that have to be made to figure out if the district even needs another school," she said. "Those three priorities will drive what happens with this ... if they decide the district wants full-day kindergarten, we'll need more space."

The district currently has four elementary schools and one middle school and serves roughly 3,600 students.

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