Arlington Heights approves first two expansions for full-day kindergarten in District 25

The first set of Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school building additions to allow for a new full-day kindergarten program earned approval from the village board Monday.

Village trustees reviewed plans for expansions at Westgate Elementary, 500 S. Dwyer Ave., and Dryden Elementary, 722 S. Dryden Place. They're the two largest projects of six planned in District 25, as authorized by voters in a $75 million tax-increase referendum last summer.

When complete for the start of the 2024-25 school year, the full-day program will replace the splintered morning and afternoon half-day kindergarten sessions currently in place.

"Now we're at a point where we need expansions to support that full-day kindergarten program," said Ryan Schulz, the district's director of facilities management.

At Westgate, 10 new classrooms and a new gymnasium will be constructed on the southwest corner of the building, while the existing gym will be repurposed into three new classrooms. Also planned is a larger playground, a reconfigured parking lot to improve vehicle flow, and an underground stormwater detention basin.

The K-5 school - which also houses the district's integrated services program for students with special needs - has 600 students. But the additional classrooms (from 34 to 44) will allow space for about 60 more students, according to district projections.

Currently, the teachers' lounge is being used for classrooms and closets as small group learning spaces.

"We really have no empty room at Westgate at this point," Superintendent Lori Bein said.

At Dryden, four new classrooms (from 24 to 28) and an expanded gym will be constructed on the south side of the building, as physical education programming will move out of the current commons/lunchroom space. Also planned is a small office addition and an underground stormwater basin.

But residents and some trustees raised concerns late Monday that the basin wouldn't fix flooding problems that have existed in the neighborhood at least since the last expansion at Dryden in 2007.

"I'm very concerned with this addition that there's going to be some more flooding," said Robert Backes, who lives on nearby Roosevelt Avenue. "I just can't see how it could be avoided."

Mayor Tom Hayes vowed that the proposed detention plan reviewed by the village engineering department wouldn't make the flooding situation worse.

At the same time, Village Manager Randy Recklaus said plans are being designed for a larger flooding fix in the Scarsdale neighborhood.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the late spring or early summer at Westgate and Dryden.

The village plan commission will hold public hearings at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on the next two proposed District 25 expansions: at Olive-Mary Stitt and Patton schools. Still to come in the approval process is expansions at Greenbrier and Windsor schools.

Districtwide, the 25 new kindergarten classrooms across the district are estimated to cost $32.2 million to $42.6 million, officials say.

It's official: District 25 ballot measure approved by 50 votes

Arlington Heights District 25 takes first steps on full-day kindergarten, building plan

Dist. 25 board authorizes first set of bonds for construction

Approval process set to begin for kindergarten expansions

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