Batavia District 101 could replace four elementary schools in new master facilities plan

This story has been updated to clarify the details of Option B and Option C.

Batavia Unit District 101 has outlined the next steps of its "Building Our Future Together" master facilities plan, which may involve the replacement of Alice Gustafson, J.B. Nelson, H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools.

District 101 held four engagement sessions in February and March to present information to the community and gather feedback. The final session on March 24 focused on bringing together information from the previous meetings.

"People really needed us to explain in great detail why it was more fiscally sound and makes more sense to rebuild some of our schools rather than renovate," Superintendent Lisa Hichens said. "So even though this plan touches all eight schools, people needed to understand why rebuilding makes more sense at four of our schools."

According to meeting documents, Alice Gustafson is the only school that would be more costly to replace than renovate. Renovating all four schools would cost $169.2 million, but rebuilding them would cost $135.3 million.

Issues with the four elementary schools include inadequate accessibility, secure entrances, roof conditions, and a lack of collaborative work environments.

"What we're hearing from the community is that 'we want to keep our eight schools; we don't want to decrease the number of schools.'" Hichens said. "The school district also has the goal of not displacing students."

Hichens said there are three funding options.

Option A would be substantially cheaper than the two other options but would only include minor improvements to school facilities.

"In that second session and every session after that, it became really clear that Option A - even if it would actually put money back in the taxpayer's pocket - was not the preferred option," Hichens said.

Option B would only see H.C. Storm and Louise White Elementary fully replaced, whereas Option C would see all four schools replaced.

"For Option B, people were surprised that there was an option that allowed us to do quite a bit of work without increasing taxes," Hichens said.

Meeting documents stated that Option C, which includes the most improvements, is the only option that would increase taxes.

The architectural firm DLR Group has assisted the development of the facilities plan since 2018.

Parents and community members will have a chance to see some of the concerns with J.B. Nelson School and Rotolo Middle School during an April 27 open house at both schools.

Hichens said the district plans to conduct a community-wide survey in early May.

The findings from all feedback sessions, open house events and the survey will be presented at the school board meeting on May 24.

A final decision on the plan will be made by the school board in July, Hichens said.

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