Glen Ellyn School District Plans to Buy Wheaton College Property, Build New School
Glen Ellyn District 41 hopes to buy a Wheaton College property to build a new Hadley Junior High facility and move elementary students to the existing building. If Wheaton College isn't willing to sell, school officials said they might use eminent domain.
Glen Ellyn School District 41 will be making an offer on a Wheaton College property with plans to build a new Hadley Junior High School to alleviate overcrowding in the district, District 41 officials said Wednesday.
With a new Hadley, the district would create a new elementary school at the current Hadley facility and eliminate its use of portable classrooms throughout the district.
District 41 Superintendent Dr. Ann Riebock said Wheaton College has indicated the property at 1825 College Ave. is not for sale in preliminary conversations. She said if Wheaton College is not open to selling, the board will consider pursuing ownership using eminent domain.
"We continue to hope Wheaton College will recognize our need for the property... This is the only thing that would allow us to improve (students') learning environments," Riebock said.
The district has been engaged in facilities planning due to overcrowding since 2002, according to a District 41 news release.
After voters defeated a $40 million bond referendum to expand, renovate and restructure district schools in 2007, board members and staff analyzed the district's space through a boundary study and two task forces to conclude the district needs a new school, District 41 spokesman Julie Worthen said.
After looking at every possibility—from redistricting to reworking the use of its existing facilities—the only viable option is building a new school, she said.
"(We) keep bumping up against our spaces and the spaces we need," Worthen said.
In 2009, Riebock said a facilities committee recommended acquiring land to build a new school or using the Spalding facility, which is currently used by Glenbard District 87.
Using the Spalding facility, however, was not a viable option because it is too small and would not meet current educational needs, Riebock said.
The board decided on the Wheaton College site as the only option last summer and has designated $3 million of its reserves to go toward land acquisition, Worthen said.
Moving elementary students to the old Hadley building would bring elementary enrollment down to about 450 kids per school, Worthen said. She said the district will also consider using the extra space to accommodate the district's early childhood education and dual language programs.
The change will also require redistricting, Worthen said, which will require a huge community engagement effort.
“It’s the first thing parents want to know but the hardest question to answer," she said.
District 41 will host a public forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 in the Hadley Library Media Center to provide information about the plan before the board takes action to proceed with an offer at the April 8 meeting.
The district will hold a second forum April 25 to get community feedback and provide updates on the plan, Riebock said.