Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/2/2017 4:31 PM

$11.8 million kindergarten center moving ahead in District 73

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Hawthorn Elementary District 73 and the Vernon Hills Park District have reached an agreement to allow for the construction of a 36,000-square-foot, $11.8 million kindergarten building to be attached to the Sullivan Center, right.

      Hawthorn Elementary District 73 and the Vernon Hills Park District have reached an agreement to allow for the construction of a 36,000-square-foot, $11.8 million kindergarten building to be attached to the Sullivan Center, right.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • A hallway scene at Hawthorn Elementary South in Vernon Hills. Hawthorn Elementary District 73 plans to consolidate kindergarten classes in a new building to provide space at other schools to ease crowding.

      A hallway scene at Hawthorn Elementary South in Vernon Hills. Hawthorn Elementary District 73 plans to consolidate kindergarten classes in a new building to provide space at other schools to ease crowding.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, March 2017

 
 

Despite a sound defeat in April of a request to borrow up to $42 million to expand and renovate all six schools, Vernon Hills-based Hawthorn Elementary District 73 is ready to pursue another project to ease crowding.

A recently approved an agreement with the Vernon Hills Park District set the table for work on an $11.8 million kindergarten center to begin in earnest.

"I'm putting together a design team," Superintendent Nick Brown said. "Then, we'll start meeting to discuss what our needs are and how to make that fit in the space available."

The 36,000-square-foot center is planned for 18 classrooms to be built onto the park district's Sullivan Center, just south of the Aspen Drive Library and across the street from District 73's south campus.

Consolidating kindergarten classes -- except for the three at the School of Dual Language -- is part of a master facilities plan. However, it wasn't among projects pitched in the referendum and will be funded separately with reserves.

District 73 enrollment has been climbing and that's expected to continue. With schools at capacity, the district turned to voters for funds to address the situation but fell short.

Building a kindergarten center would free space at schools but provide only short-term relief, the district has maintained.

"Our buildings are full. We're still experiencing that student enrollment issue," Brown said.

In any case, detailed planning will get underway. Construction is expected to begin next spring, but whether the building will be ready for the 2018-19 school year is unknown.

Under the agreement, District 73 will pay for construction of the kindergarten center but lease the building from the park district at a nominal fee for 20 years, with an option to buy it for $100 after that.

The parties will share resources, with the park district having access to meeting rooms and other space at night and District 73 able to use the gym during the day.

"It saves taxpayers a lot of money," said park board President David Doerhoefer. "They're in desperate need of space and we're in a position to help them."

Meanwhile, District 73 is readying for next year.

"We started our enrollment about six weeks earlier for new students," Brown said. "We're monitoring that now."

In 2017-18, all middle school students will have district-issued Chromebooks, making computer lab space available as needed.

"We're going to be tight but we'll be able to make it work," according to Brown. "It's the second year we're really going to be watching very closely."

Will the district return to voters for funds to address space needs? If so, would the request be retooled? The board that approved the original referendum question has three new members.

"I think the June 12 board meeting we'll start the conversation," Brown said. "What's next? What do we do?"

@dhmickzawislak

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.