Futabakai Japanese School hopes to stay in Arlington Heights
A Japanese school that's made Arlington Heights its home for the past two decades is looking to stay in town and lease additional space at a former Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school.
Officials from District 25 and Chicago Futabakai Japanese School are negotiating a new 10-year lease for the former Rand Junior High School at 2550 N. Arlington Heights Road.
Futabakai, a Japanese elementary and junior high day school, relocated to Arlington Heights from Niles in 1998. It was founded more than 50 years ago by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Japanese government as more and more families moved to the Chicago area to work for U.S. subsidiaries of Japanese companies.
As many of those families began to move northwest of Chicago, the school found Arlington Heights to be a central location.
Futabakai officials approached District 25 in the fall about renewing their lease, which expires at the end of March. The school board could vote on a final agreement as soon as March 15.
Stacey Mallek, District 25's assistant superintendent of business, said Futabakai is interested in leasing additional space at the school, including a former wood shop the district now uses for storage. Both sides are still discussing options, since the district would have to find additional storage space elsewhere, Mallek said.
Futabakai pays $411,000 in annual rent, which is proposed to increase by about $7,000. The school also contributes $50,000 a year for building maintenance, and it's spent more than $1.5 million on other building upgrades.
Officials at Futabakai declined to comment until after the lease agreement is finalized.
District 25, which closed Rand school in 1983, doesn't have plans to reopen the building as a public school anytime soon. Superintendent Lori Bein said the district would have to spend $20 million to bring the facility into compliance with current state codes, which Futabakai does not have to meet as a private entity.