Elgin weighs options on Fox River Country Day School
Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said that a possible new international boarding school could create long-term opportunities for the city.
Chinese investor Hongwei Zhao, owner and president of Telansun Information System Technology in Beijing, is part of a group proposing to convert the former Fox River Country Day School, now owned by the city, into a new school for local and international students.
"This could open up the door for more Chinese investment in Elgin," Kaptain said Friday. "If we look 10 or 15 years down the road, would this be a good thing to do? That's what we're going to have to wrestle as a city and as a council."
Ivy Bridge International, an education consulting company based in Illinois, and B2B Convergence of Algonquin would partner with Zhao.
The group's proposal to the city included $100,000 to buy the property and up to $900,000 for site improvements. However, the group overall has $4 million for acquisition and property improvements, Zhao said.
Another proposal for the site was presented by Restoration America, Inc., based in Hoffman Estates, which wants to create a treatment center with programs for veterans.
Restoration America Executive Director Charles Konkus has said the group, which includes investors Michael and Kyle Oremus, has $5 million for property acquisition and improvements.
Kaptain said Restoration America's nonprofit charter requires its properties to be donated. Konkus did not return a call for comment.
Restoration America is also looking at other sites in Elgin, including the former Bowes Retirement Center and the former Lowe's store on Randall Road, Kaptain said.
The city wouldn't get any tax revenues from Restoration America, but would get tax revenues from a for-profit private school, Kaptain pointed out. He has met with both groups, he said.
Telansun wants to begin investing in international education, Zhao said. The Elgin site is unique because it would allow an environmental component to be built into the curriculum, Zhao said.
"In China, the best schools never get an environment like this," he said. "The number of Chinese students coming to U.S. has been increasing. China's education is very test-oriented, and children's creativity and happiness is gone. Many families that have resources are looking for opportunities to study in Australia, Canada, Europe and America."
Zhao underlined the school will be open to all students, not just Chinese students. If the proposal is approved, the school would open in August, he said.
City Manager Sean Stegall said city staff members will be scheduling presentations from both groups in the next week; if the proposals meet all criteria, the city council will be considering them likely in mid-December, he said.