District 41 to poll residents about possible building additions

Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 will poll residents next month about whether to build additions to existing elementary schools or construct a new facility on district-owned land.

Top administrators continue to support constructing a new building on district-owned land despite opposition from a group of parents. The school board decided Monday night to put the question to residents in a survey.

Architects delivered to the school board Monday a 47-page report with conceptual plans for renovating and expanding the district's four elementary schools. The additions would accommodate a potential full-day kindergarten program.

After reviewing the plans by GreenAssociates, Superintendent Paul Gordon and his assistant superintendent wrote a memo to the school board that maintains a new building on a nearly 5-acre site would relieve space constraints and preserve green space at existing schools. The land has remained vacant since the district demolished Spalding Elementary in 1997.

The report by GreenAssociates did not offer a price tag for a new facility. Previous plans have showed building a new early learning center at the Spalding site for the district's youngest students would cost roughly $24 million. Another long-floated option there calls for building a new school for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at a cost of about $30 million.

The school board has not decided how the district would pay for all the projects. But one possibility is extending the life of existing debt instead of paying off the tax-backed loans as scheduled. Such a borrowing plan would require voter approval, and the earliest the district could place a question on the ballot is April 2017.

Either proposal for the Spalding site means the district would not add on to existing elementary schools as favored by members of a task force of 32 parents and taxpayers that studied the issue earlier this year. That group wants kindergartners to go to the neighborhood school they would attend as elementary students.

To help gather more feedback on the proposals, a district-hired firm, School Perceptions, plans to issue a survey in mid-October to the roughly 13,000 households in the district.

The survey also would ask residents to give input on two options by GreenAssociates for Hadley Junior High:

• A 12-classroom addition that would cost roughly $9.2 million and replace the school's 10 portable classroom units - the last in the district

• A classroom addition to replace the portable units and upgrades such as a new, multipurpose space that would include a cafeteria and a performing arts auditorium at a total cost of about $21.1 million.

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