Elgin charter school takes giant leap forward

  • The Elgin Charter School Initiative wants to lease the former Larkin Center school at 515 Sports Way for a new charter school to open next fall.

      The Elgin Charter School Initiative wants to lease the former Larkin Center school at 515 Sports Way for a new charter school to open next fall. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted10/9/2014 5:30 AM

A new charter school will open in the former Larkin Center's Rakow Campus in Elgin if the state gives its OK.

The Elgin City Council unanimously gave its thumbs-up to leasing the property at 515 Sports Way, just south of Route 20 and east of McLean Boulevard, to the Elgin Charter School Initiative, which plans to open the Elgin Math and Science Academy next year.

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The lease is subject to approval from the state, from which the city has leased the property at no cost since 2000.

"It is a real win-win for the city and for us," said Karen Schock, president of the charter group.

The lease is also subject to approval of the charter school by the state charter school commission, which is expected to cast a vote Oct. 28.

The Larkin Center, which had leased the property from the city since 2000, discontinued its operations last year. The Larkin Center, in turn, subleased it to Chicago-based Lawrence Hall Youth Services from October through July. The property is now vacant.

The one-year lease would start July 1, 2015 with four, one-year options. The rent would be a nominal $10 per year, the same amount paid by the Larkin Center, city officials said.

The charter school would be responsible for maintenance costs, and the city would still be able to use the gym and auditorium on the site for parks and recreation programs, city officials said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The charter group previously submitted two proposals to lease the former Fox River Country Day School in Elgin, which is owned by the city.

The city council didn't take any action on the first proposal earlier this year after balking at the cost of the repairs needed on the property. The second proposal hadn't been examined by city staff members yet.

The property at 515 Sports Way is in good condition, Schock said.

"It will address our needs through 8th grade, with a little remodeling, and that won't be necessary for at least four years," she said.

The board of Elgin Area School District U-46 rejected the application in July, but the state commission has ultimate say.

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