Dist. 220 board discusses options for Hough Street Elementary
A capacity crowd eager to learn more about the district's plan to fix several of the facility problems at Hough Street Elementary School attended the Barrington Area Unit School District 220 board meeting Tuesday night.
The problems with the 50-year-old building, at 310 S. Hough St., include security concerns at the front entrance, limited storage space, sections of the building that are not ADA-compliant and that there is only one staff bathroom.
Over winter break, district staff and members of the board's facility subcommittee were tasked with trying to address the building's problems with fresh eyes. A group including Greg Stahler, an architect contracted by the village; Tom Campagna, the district's director of buildings and grounds; and Hough Elementary Principal Jim Aalfs presented many different options that the board could consider in a nearly two-hour presentation. One plan called for reconfiguring the layout of existing staff and administration space without constructing an addition, while another called for changing the footprint of the school to add space. Another plan would add either one or two stories of storage space to the side of the school's multipurpose room. Another plan would move an IT closet to the school's basement to gain 49 square feet of space, which Campagna said would be the equivalent of 100 square feet at another district building because of how tight the building is.
"We looked at everything," Superintendent Brian Harris said.
The most controversial proposal was to relocate the extended self-contained gifted program, a districtwide program that has been based at Hough for at least 30 years, to a different elementary school. Making the move would free up two classrooms in the space-strapped building, but several community members argued the cost to the school's culture would be too great.
Peter Chmiel, now a Barrington High sophomore, said when he was in the self-contained program that part of what made it great was that it was located at Hough.
"I'll never forget how tight-knit the program was," Chmiel said.
One of the biggest disagreements about Hough is how safe it is. Late last year, the district to enhance the building's security by building a front desk near the main entrance and hire an employee to manage the people who go in and out of the building. Harris said the new employee should be hired soon.
Board member Wendy Farley said that security plan does not go far enough to make the school safer.
"In my mind that does not solve the issues we have at Hough," Farley said. "Safety is the number one issue that we have talked about for a year and it is still not addressed."
Time is short for the board to decide which, if any, of the changes discussed at the meeting they can afford to implement this summer.
Board member Penny Kazmier, who is on the facilities committee, said she hopes her fellow board members digest the information and comments they got at Tuesday night's meeting and give direction at their next meeting. The board next meets at 7 p.m. on January 26 at the Barrington Early Learning Center.