Trustees like Windsor Elementary expansion plan, except for traffic
Arlington Heights trustees like Arlington Heights Elementary District 25's plans to expand Windsor Elementary School but raised concerns Monday about neighborhood traffic congestion during student drop-off and pickup times.
Trustees took a 7-1 first-reading vote to approve the district's plan to double the size of the school gym, expand the school commons area, and add six new classrooms and more office space. The $13.7 million expansion, proposed in response to growing enrollment, would allow the school to get rid of a mobile building where two classrooms meet and return the library to full use since a portion of it has been used as a third classroom.
But it was the unresolved morning drop-off and afternoon pickup issues that dominated much of the discussion during Monday's village board meeting.
Trustee Carol Blackwood, the lone "no" vote, sought more than just one community meeting -- scheduled for 9:45 a.m. March 2 at village hall -- to discuss traffic congestion around the school. She's volunteered with the Windsor PTA's morning Drop and Go program, in which parent volunteers help students out of cars and into school.
"If it weren't for the volunteers, we wouldn't have any kind of safety program for drop-offs at Windsor," Blackwood said.
Though Trustee Joe Farwell voted in favor of the building expansion, he said the entire proposal hadn't been fully vetted because of the traffic problems. Farwell, who lives across the street from another school in Arlington Heights, said it was a "cart and horse" issue that trustees were being asked to take a vote before the March 2 community meeting.
Farwell indicated he could change his vote at the next board meeting March 6, when a final, second-reading vote is taken.
"I don't think drop-off and pickup is an insignificant issue," he said. "It is chronic and won't go away."
To assuage concerns, the school district plans to encourage more parents to drop students off in the school's expanded parking lot after it is built. That would lessen vehicle stacking on Miner Street and Windsor Drive, officials say.
The district is also proposing an additional crosswalk marking at the intersection and wants to restrict northbound traffic on Windsor Drive during dismissal -- similar to the existing prohibition during arrival.
The district is also calling for a parking ban at the northeast corner of the Miner-Windsor intersection during arrival and dismissal.
Village Manager Randy Recklaus said even after the March 2 community meeting, the village and school district would continue to work together to address traffic concerns around the school.
If the school expansion is given final approval, the district plans to begin construction in March and complete it before the new school year starts in August.