After 35 years, Pioneer Child Care moving out of Dist. 44 building
Pioneer Child Care is moving out of its longtime home in Lombard Elementary District 44's former Fairwood School next week, after serving kids in district buildings for 35 years.
"We understand what's going on, but we're sad we have to move," said Jeannine Baran, who co-owns the day care with Nancy Lantz.
The district closed Fairwood School about 16 years ago and the privately-owned day care -- which serves about 100 children -- has occupied the space for most of that time. The day care previously was located in other district buildings.
"We've been spoiled by the school district," Baran said. "We had this beautiful gym and these nice classrooms. The district has been a wonderful renter."
In late 2014, the district informed the day care of its decision to try to sell the property at 543 E. Taylor Road.
"There were a lot of repairs that started to come up and they were quite expensive," Superintendent Michael Robey said.
In the months that followed, there were many conversations and meetings concerning the future of Pioneer. In summer 2015, the school district agreed to extend its lease for 13 months while Baran and Lantz looked for a new location.
"I think we've been more than patient and more than transparent in the whole process," Robey said. "It's October and even though our agreement ended on Aug. 30, we have issued three or four other extensions in that time."
A new location for the day care has been secured at 390 E. St. Charles Road, but construction is expected to take 12 to 15 months. In the meantime, preparations have been ongoing to temporarily move the facility to 523 E. Roosevelt Road, in the High Pointe Shopping Center.
This week, the school district informed the day care the lease couldn't be extended any longer and everything must be moved out by Sunday. However, the center cannot open in the temporary space until approval is granted by the Department of Children and Family Services, and then the fire marshal and the DuPage County Health Department.
Getting DCFS to grant a waiver to its regulatory requirement for outdoor space has taken longer than anticipated and the day care's owners feared they might have to completely close Pioneer next week while they continued to sort out approvals. DCFS has since confirmed it will visit the temporary space on Thursday and likely issue the waiver.
"A week is a long time for parents to be without day care," Baran said, adding that she is hopeful the facility will now only have to close for a day or two early next week. "We were really upset, but now things are looking up."
Once the day care is moved out, the school district will demolish the building. The empty property will then be turned over to the Lombard Park District, as part of a land swap agreement.
In exchange, the school district will get about four acres of park district land adjacent Park View Elementary School.
Park district officials did not immediately return calls, but day care officials said in a blog there are plans to construct a park district facility on the land that would house a walking track, two basketball courts and a workout room.