End of state P.E. waiver prompts gym expansion at Arlington Heights school

Changes in state physical education requirements have prompted Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 to add onto one of its smaller school gymnasiums.

The proposed 4,350-square-foot expansion of the Patton Elementary School gym, which received zoning approvals from the village board Monday night, would double the 33-year-old athletic facility's current size and allow the school to hold two P.E. classes at the same time.

Superintendent Lori Bein told the board state law requires K-12 students to take three sessions of P.E. per week, but districts have been able to apply for a waiver if they have an extra recess period - until this year.

District 25 is getting an additional year to increase its P.E. offerings from two periods per week to three amid its ongoing districtwide construction program for full-day kindergarten.

The Patton gym, at 1616 N. Patton Ave. on the village's north side, is one of the remaining small gyms in the district. It's similar to the one at Greenbrier Elementary, which is just blocks away, but that school has a smaller enrollment, according to Ryan Schulz, the district's director of facilities management.

The expansion - which would include the additional gym court area, an office and storage space - is planned at the southwest corner of school. The building configuration will be different from most other elementary school gyms due to site constraints, so evening or weekend games aren't anticipated - only practices, Schulz said.

District officials plan to pay for construction through the $75 million tax-increase referendum authorized by voters last year. In total, 25 new full-day kindergarten classrooms are under construction across six schools, and five years' worth of other capital projects are planned.

In February, the village board approved a three-classroom kindergarten addition on the west side of Patton. The approvals covered construction of an underground storm trap under the south parking lot, designed to handle the gym expansion school district officials were already considering.

Construction on the Patton gym is set to begin this fall and be complete by the start of the new school year.

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