Batavia Dist. 101 to hold forums about building plans

  • J.B. Nelson Elementary School, at 334 William Wood Lane in Batavia, is the oldest school in Batavia Unit District 101. The original portion of the building was constructed in 1955.

      J.B. Nelson Elementary School, at 334 William Wood Lane in Batavia, is the oldest school in Batavia Unit District 101. The original portion of the building was constructed in 1955. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, April 2021

 
 
Updated 1/28/2022 12:44 PM

Batavia Unit District 101 is asking residents to give their opinions about the condition of its school buildings at several forums, as the district considers rebuilding as many as four schools.

The first "Building Our Future Together" session is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Batavia High School, 1201 Main St.

 

Architect Keri Vansant will review the state of the buildings. Then feedback will be taken. Findings and a long-range facilities plan will be presented to the school board in the spring.

The team overseeing the sessions is led by Kelly Bleakley, a 2017 Batavia High School graduate; Ginny Gaspar, a retired St. Charles school district teacher; and Brian Schwab, a 1991 graduate.

Last spring, a committee proposed rebuilding several schools and renovating the rest. It suggested the district consider closing an elementary school due to a 15% decline in district enrollment since 2014.

The committee's report estimated the work would cost at least $86 million. The district would have to borrow money to pay for the project. But it would need voter approval to borrow the money.

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The schools eyed for rebuilds are the four oldest: J.B. Nelson, the original part of which was built in 1955; Alice Gustafson, 1957; and Louise White and H.C. Storm, both constructed in 1978.

The 2021 report estimated it would cost $18 million to $22 million to replace each school.

The district then sought public comments about the committee's report.

"One answer we already have from the community is the strong desire to operate all eight schools in (District 101), most notably keeping the six neighborhood elementary schools," Superintendent Lisa Hichens said Thursday.

Future forums will talk about how to pay for construction and prioritize projects.

The district still owes about $40 million on money borrowed for previous capital projects. It expects to pay that off in five years.

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