Arlington Heights approves two more District 25 additions for full-day kindergarten

Arlington Heights village board members Tuesday approved two more Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 building expansions for full-day kindergarten, two weeks after the first set was authorized.

"That's 4 for 4," said Mayor Tom Hayes after the latest zoning approvals for additions at Olive-Mary Stitt and Patton elementary schools.

At their previous meeting Feb. 6, the mayor and trustees approved expansion plans at Westgate and Dryden elementary schools. And Wednesday night, the plan commission will look at the last set of District 25's plans for additions to Greenbrier and Windsor elementaries before the village board gives its final review.

In total, 25 new classrooms are planned across the six schools to handle extra capacity when full-day kindergarten comes online in the 2024-25 school year. The plan was backed by voters in a $75 million tax-increase referendum last summer.

The latest approvals came the same day legislation that would mandate full-day kindergarten statewide was assigned to committee in Springfield. The bill was filed by Mary Beth Canty, an Arlington Heights trustee who doubles as a Democratic state representative.

"Requiring full-day kindergarten is a common-sense solution to closing the achievement gap and setting our youngest learners up for a lifetime of success," said Canty in a news release earlier Tuesday. "Full-day kindergarten not only benefits students, but also allows teachers to know their students better and increases access to safe, dependable child care for working parents."

Canty, who was sworn into her 54th District seat in January, is serving out the remainder of her trustee term that ends in May. She didn't vote on the District 25 expansions Tuesday night as she was one of three trustees absent from the meeting.

At Olive-Mary Stitt, 303 E. Olive St., four new classrooms (from 31 to 35), two smaller group rooms, storage, hallways and a courtyard will be added to the west side of the school. A playground structure will be relocated to the east side, and a 4-foot-tall fence will be installed along Arlington Heights Road as a vehicle barrier.

"That is a wonderful thing. You can't be too safe," said Trustee Robin LaBedz, whose children attended that school.

A little more than a mile to the northwest at Patton, 1616 N. Patton Ave., three new classrooms (from 21 to 24), storage, hallways and a courtyard will be added to the west side. The north and south parking lots will be rebuilt, and an underground storm trap will be constructed under the south lot, pending approval by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

"It's a lot of money to put this kind of a storm system in under that parking lot and to add this kind of control for rainwater leaving the site," said Trustee Jim Tinaglia. "This is a big improvement for the neighborhood. The neighbors should experience some help here."

The stormwater capacity is designed to handle a potential gymnasium expansion the school board is considering. The extra space might be needed for additional periods of physical education if the state P.E. waiver is eliminated.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer or fall at both schools.

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Arlington Heights approves first two expansions for full-day kindergarten in District 25

Mary Beth Canty, a Democratic state representative and Arlington Heights village trustee, has proposed legislation in Springfield that would require school districts across the state to implement full-day kindergarten starting in the 2023-24 school year. Daily Herald File Photo
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