Why District 15 is looking at changing which grades go to which schools

  • This ceremony marked a new Little Free Library at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Hoffman Estates in 2016. An architecture firm will look at potential building changes needed to convert Jefferson Elementary into a junior high school or middle school.

    This ceremony marked a new Little Free Library at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Hoffman Estates in 2016. An architecture firm will look at potential building changes needed to convert Jefferson Elementary into a junior high school or middle school. Courtesy of Sara Rossi, 2016

 
 
Updated 9/12/2019 6:47 AM

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will work with an architecture firm in a study of whether to change which grades go to which schools, especially if more room is needed for all-day kindergarten.

As part of its first phase of work, Chicago-based STR Partners will look at potential building changes needed if Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Hoffman Estates were to become a junior high school for grades seven and eight. STR also plans to investigate the possibility of Jefferson Elementary being a middle school for grades six through eight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While school board members Wednesday night were not required to approve the expected base price of $11,750 for STR's work in the first of at least four phases, they agreed the study should proceed.

STR operations partner and architect Jennifer Costanzo said the study will build on work by an advisory task force regarding potential boundary changes.

"I think what was clear out of the boundary task force was that some of the community goals may require change to how some of the schools are being used," Costanzo said.

She said STR also plans to examine the potential of changing the district's four junior high schools -- Plum Grove, Walter R. Sundling, Winston Campus and Carl Sandburg -- into middle schools for grades six through eight.

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District 15 Superintendent Laurie Heinz said the possibility of all-day kindergarten would be part of the equation in deciding how the upper-grade students attend school.

She said there is not enough space to house full-day kindergarten without expanding the 15 elementary schools or "having a serious conversation about going to a middle school."

She also said there could be a combination of junior high and middle schools.

"No decisions have been made," Heinz said. "We're not saying we're going to a middle school model."

Costanzo is expected to make a presentation on the study's first phase to the school board on Nov. 13.

District 15 officials also are considering an idea to create a new school for students in kindergarten through sixth grade in part of the Park Place shopping center near Dundee and Rand roads in Palatine.

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