Glen Ellyn District 41 to hold hearing on Hadley classroom addition

Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 will hold a public hearing Monday on plans for a Hadley Junior High classroom addition - one of the projects in a $24.2 million construction plan approved by voters last spring.

The hearing will give neighbors and residents a chance to review the latest designs for the two-story wing that will be built on the west side of the Glen Ellyn school.

The district hopes to break ground this spring on the addition that will replace portable classrooms installed more than a decade ago at the campus at the northeast corner of Glencoe Street and Hawthorne Boulevard.

"Getting students under one roof is, from a safety standpoint, paramount," Superintendent Paul Gordon said Monday. "But also from an instructional standpoint, we will no longer be losing that amount of time where kids are going from the portables back into the main facility. "

When Gordon was hired in July 2013, the district was using nearly three dozen portable units across its schools in response to rising enrollment. The district later spent about $7 million in reserves and issued another $7 million in bonds to build brick-and-mortar additions and remove the portable structures at the four elementary schools.

Hadley is now the only school in the district with classes taught in portables.

"All of our students end up at Hadley, so at one point or another, all District 41 students will be able to experience this transformation at Hadley Junior High," Gordon said.

By a margin of just 10 votes, the district secured voter permission in April to issue $24.2 million in bonds to pay for the Hadley addition, as well as a new, more secure entrance at Churchill Elementary and infrastructure projects at all five schools. The final tally showed 2,666 votes in favor of the referendum question and 2,656 against it.

The district expects to pay off the debt in 20 years. Principal and interest payments on the loans will cost the district about $1.75 million annually.

The Hadley addition will include a first-floor flexible space and two new classrooms specifically designed for music programs. The project also will reconfigure space in the school's so-called "pods" and make a performing arts stage accessible to wheelchairs.

"Over 50 percent of students participate in one of the music activities at Hadley, so it's a great opportunity to enhance the music program's space from what it currently is," Gordon said. "As it's currently configured, there's a lot of noise that bleeds through each of the classrooms. We are going to be able to eliminate that by the new construction."

Also at Hadley, the district plans to shift bus drop-off and pickup off Glencoe Street and onto school property to help alleviate traffic around the neighborhood school. The one-way, double-lane drive would accommodate 18 school buses and run parallel to Glencoe.

"For that community that lives on Glencoe, we'll be able to remove those buses from that traffic pattern," Gordon said.

The district is seeking a zoning exemption from the village for an impervious surface setback variation in order to build the roughly 490-foot-long bus drive. The plan commission will consider that request Thursday night. Commissioners won't review plans for the addition itself because it conforms to all zoning requirements, village planners say.

Buses will head onto Glencoe Street - northbound only - through a proposed exit aligned with the intersection at Ashton Court. Gordon said the district will need to secure approval from Wheaton officials for the new curb cuts because Glencoe falls under the city's jurisdiction.

The public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Hadley will focus on designs from Wight & Company, a Chicago architectural company. The district also has hired Frederick Quinn Corporation, the same construction management firm that oversaw the elementary school additions.

The district plans to dismantle the portable structure to the south this spring to accommodate the addition. The other structure to the north will remain in use during construction.

The district hopes to complete the project by the start of the 2019 school year.

The addition, as viewed from the south side of Hadley Junior High, will replace portable classrooms installed at the Glen Ellyn school more than a decade ago. Courtesy of Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41
A rendering shows the north facade of the two-story addition to Hadley Junior High. Courtesy of Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41
A rendering by Wight & Company shows a typical classroom that would be built as part of the new addition to Hadley Junior High. Courtesy of Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41
  One of the portable structures will remain in use during construction of the addition to Hadley Junior High. The other will be dismantled this spring. Mark Black/, April 2016
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