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District 200 to Seek Input in Plans for a New Jefferson Preschool in Wheaton

District 200 staff will reach out to the community for input on two options for a new Jefferson Preschool Early Childhood Education Center in Wheaton.

Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on proposals to rebuild the outdated facility at 130 N. Halzelton Avenue in Wheaton.

Community Unit School District 200 staff, board members and representatives from Legat Architects discussed two $29 million options to rebuild Jefferson, the district's School Services Center ( and rehab, or sell, Woodland School, a district storage facility in Warrenville at a board meeting Wednesday night.

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Legat representative Patrick Brosnan presented the following options to the board:

  • Option one: All facilities would remain at their current locations. The district would build a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center (ECC), the SSC would be expanded for a larger board room and additional storage. Woodland would be expanded for vehicle and technology storage.
  • Option two: Combines the SSC and the new Jefferson ECC in one building on the Jefferson property, with one wing of district offices on a second floor. The current SSC building would be expanded for vehicle maintenance and storage, and the district would sell Woodland School.

Brosnan introduced in October, and has worked with a board subcommittee and district staff to develop plans for the project.

A board subcommittee comprising Jim Vroman and Joann Coghill recommended "option two" to the board, after working with Jefferson staff, district administrators and Legat Architects to develop ideas for the ECC.

District 200 Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris said staff looked at a combination of options to provide to the board. "We could do any of them, we could do all of them, we could do none of them," he said.

In addition to the new preschool, Vroman said he sees no long-term use for Woodland, and a new SSC is "an opportunity we ought to consider."

Coghill said rebuilding Jefferson would create a better environment for the children and staff. "There's no question that we have to do Jefferson," she said.

The Early Childhood Center (ECC)

The proposed ECC would be a 62,000-square-foot facility located south of the current building. A parking lot with 147 spaces would front the new building in the current building's location along Manchester Road. Brosnan also proposed the addition of 41 parking spaces on Hazelton Avenue.

The ECC would include:

  • Twenty classrooms, including a speech classroom and a diagnostics classroom, a diagnostic team room and waiting room, 10 "pull-out" rooms, a motor room and nine bathrooms, totaling about 26,000 square feet
  • A media center, 1,700 square feet
  • "Large Motor Skills" area, including an indoor play space and storage for special needs equipment, 4,400 square feet
  • Administrative offices, approximately 6,000 square feet
  • "Warming kitchen," 320 square feet
  • Operations and maintenance space, staff and public toilets, 5,900 square feet

Cost

According to a preliminary budget summary, the cost to build the ECC building would be about $18.3 million. The SSC expansion in option one would cost about $6 million and the work at Woodland School would cost about $5.4 million.

The cost to build a facility that combines the SSC offices and the ECC—option two—would be about $24.7 million. The SSC expansion would cost about $5.3 million and the district could sell Woodland for about $500,000, according to Brosnan's presentation.

According to the district's Capital Development Plan, funding options for the project include the district's operations and maintenance funds, life safety bonds, performance contracting and a referendum.

Harris said the board could choose to use some, or all, of the $14.5 million the state paid District 200 this year for the 2003 Hubble referendum to pay for a new Jefferson.

Discussion

Board members favored the option that combined the School Services Center and the preschool on the current Jefferson Preschool property. Board member Andy Johnson said he likes option two because it would put district administrators into a school setting.

Vice President Barbara Intihar agreed. "It is something to be able to look out the window and see kids... and bring home that purpose for being there," she said.

Vroman suggested that staff solicit community feedback to gage support for a building that combines the SSC and EDD.

"The principal, number one goal in my mind is the new Jefferson... but if there is community support (for combined facilities), let's go for it," he said.

Harris said he will gather information to put together a strategy to generate community input and move forward.

billy May 26, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Large Motor Skills area of only 4,400 square feet seems small for most important for those many educators agree is the learning of 60% of long term adult skills.
billy May 26, 2012 at 03:42 PM
In this overview of proposal no mention of Science, Engineering, Technology and Math supported experiences. At Fermi their learning center of 500 square feet is surrounded by hands-on SETM allowing class instruction as well as self learning. The STEM learning support is said to be CUSD 200 approved, but not yet heard in this project?
EWB May 26, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Children at Jefferson are either special needs (some type of developmental delay) or they pay tuition. Period. No waivers. When most people talk about waivers they are concerned about children going for free because of low income. Is that what you are getting at? If you are concerned that Jefferson is spending money on kids who you think should stay home or have their parents send them somewhere else, you can attend board meetings to ask those questions. If you want the "numbers", ask the district offices or request them through FOIA. Everyone should keep in mind, a lot of children have invisible disabilities, and those you think look perfectly typical to you, could, in fact, have a serious disability.
CMA May 26, 2012 at 08:37 PM
The PD teachers are actually the one's who catch the initial red flag that could potentially be a problem and send the child and parent over to Jefferson for an evaluation, so let us not be so quick to dismiss the teachers at the PD. Please do not use the term teachers, 'loosely' when referring to PD employees, yes they are nice people, but they are college educated and hold teaching certificates just as District 200 employees, some do have Masters degrees as well. We are truly blessed in Wheaton to have great teachers both at the Park District and in the school district.
Btobe June 30, 2012 at 01:48 AM
First off the price is out of control, the facility seems to be fine as is. There is no need to invest and ask for more tax dollars to fix a parking issue. Next if they are insistent on building the "Taj Mahal" they should consider the investments of the residents who will live across from it and reconsider the plans so the park and green spaces will be the view rather than bricks and mortar. It's already a one way street adding volumes of more commercial traffic will only increase the dangers to the residential neighborhood and potential students.

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