Dist. 75 considers mobile classrooms for Washington school
Mobile classrooms are the preferred method to solve space issues at the Washington Early Learning Center in Mundelein, officials say.
"The (school) board has been studying this all fall and it looks like we're heading in that direction," Mundelein Elementary District 75 Superintendent Andy Henrikson said.
At the board's direction, Henrikson will seek requests for qualifications as a precursor to fielding bids for a mobile facility to be installed and connected to the west side of the main building this summer.
"I'm looking for a single modular building that has four classrooms ... so it will feel like an annex. Mobile classrooms have come a long way," he said.
The learning center serves kindergarten through second grade. However, it is crowded with five kindergarten classes with 25 or 26 students each, and that has led to the district adding a roving teacher to assist. Ideally, a ninth first-grade room would be added for next year, but none is available, Henrikson said.
And there are other issues.
"Right now, we have seven reading specialists all teaching small groups in one room at the same time," he said. Also, because there isn't appropriate room, some special education students are bused to a program in Grayslake, according to Henrikson.
The board considered several options for Washington, including making no changes, shifting grade levels among the district's four schools, adding a varying number of mobile classrooms with and without bathrooms, or borrowing to build a permanent addition estimated at $3 million.
Adding the mobile classrooms will even out the classroom size and accommodate any new students, school board President Wells Frice said. Two new housing developments, including at the former Quig's apple orchard, could add to enrollment, he said.
"This is an interim solution that's better than not doing anything and is cost-effective," Frice said.
If all goes as suggested, four second-grade classrooms would be moved into the mobile buildings, Henrickson said. That would allow the district to bring back the majority of its K-2 special education students and add a first-grade class and perhaps a music classroom in the main building.
Henrikson said bringing back the special education students would save about $95,000 annually in tuition the district pays. Connecting the utilities to the mobile classrooms and installing a sidewalk and ramp would be a one-time cost of about $50,000.
The specific cost of the mobile classrooms is to be determined but is expected to largely be offset by the tuition saving, Henrikson said.
A three-year lease for the mobile classrooms is being considered, which would allow time to assess and prioritize needed improvements at other buildings as well as Washington, he said. By then, there also will be a better gauge of the status and viability of the Lincoln School learning center, which serves preschoolers from District 75, Hawthorn Elementary District 73 and Fremont Elementary District 79, Henrikson said.