District 303 considers plans to repurpose Haines building

 
 
Posted12/4/2018 5:30 AM
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  • St. Charles Unit District 303 board members are considering what to do with the Haines Middle School facility when it closes at the end of the academic year.

      St. Charles Unit District 303 board members are considering what to do with the Haines Middle School facility when it closes at the end of the academic year. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

A site for college and career programs, a new board room and unified office space are among the priorities identified by St. Charles Unit District 303 as the school board considers future uses for Haines Middle School.

Administrators on Monday presented various options for what to do with the school after it closes at the end of this academic year. Rather than demolish or sell the property, most board members expressed an interest in repurposing portions of the building. Doing so would allow the district to address several "unique needs" and plan for future program expansion, board President Kathy Hewell said.

Closing Haines is part of the district's roughly $50 million plan to consolidate and upgrade its middle school facilities. Wredling underwent improvements last year, and a project to expand and renovate Thompson is expected to wrap up next summer.

Discussions began this fall over the fate of the soon-to-be vacant Haines facility, parts of which are 60 years old. During Monday's business services committee meeting, board members were presented with two possible plans for what the building could look like if it were to be repurposed.

With a roughly $3.83 million price tag, the first option would include demolishing the structure's sixth-grade wing and two-story addition. The remaining space would then be occupied by a new board room, Department of Instruction offices, and community and professional learning space.

The NorthEast Academy alternative program and special education transitions program also would be relocated there under the umbrella of a "college and career center," Superintendent Jason Pearson said. "It's something we have as a dream, kind of, to have a place where we can house these kinds of programs."

In the second option, which would cost about $4.7 million, the two-story addition, learning resource center and Project Lead the Way wing would be torn down. That plan calls for creating a board room and moving all the district's administration and Department of Instruction offices into the Haines building.

The existing administration building at 201 S. Seventh St. would then be repurposed into the college and career center.

Both plans include a partnership with the St. Charles Park District, which has expressed interest in using the gym and adjacent band and orchestra classrooms.

Board member Heidi Fairgrieve said she wants a better understanding of how other district facilities are being used, and at what capacity, before making a decision that could cost millions of dollars. Several board members, including Scott Nowling, said they believe repurposing the building makes the most sense.

"I think it's relatively cheap to accomplish what we're talking about accomplishing," he said. "It's certainly nowhere near the project we're undertaking (at Thompson), and you still get a lot of utility out of the building."

Board members are expected to continue discussions at a January committee meeting.

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