District 200 Considers Jefferson Preschool Replacement Plans

Board wants to explore how to finance $16 million plan for a new preschool campus.

Community Unit School District 200 staff was directed Wednesday to further explore ways to fund a new facility for , 130 North Hazelton Avenue.

Patrick Brosnan, president of the district's architecture firm, Legat Architects, presented the board with options for the Jefferson site in a Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday and recommended fully replacing the 27,506-square-foot building that was built in 1958.

A replacement could cost around $16 million for a 52,744-square-foot building, Brosnan said, which would be designed specifically for the District's preschool program and needs.

District staff also recommended that the district consider combining its administrative offices on the same site, selling its Woodland property—a former school in the southern end of the district that is now used for equipment—and renovating the current School Service Center for facility and technical services.

The new Jefferson building, Brosnan explained, would sit further away from Manchester Road on the 10-acre property than the current facility. Plans for the building include 16 classrooms for classes of up to 20 students, an at-risk classroom, a diagnostics classroom, a speech room, 8 shared rooms and a motor room in addition to a multipurpose area, offices, storage spaces and a media room.

Brosnan also presented the options to renew the building as it stands for around $8 million, or to renew the building with the proposed additional square footage for around $15 million. 

The district will apply for a state grant for early childhood education centers which could award up to $4.5 million for the facility, Brosnan said. Bill Farley, assistant superintendent of business operations in District 200 said that while there is high competition for very few grants, there may be other opportunities to apply in the future.

Board President Rosemary Swanson said that as much as she'd love to proceed with plans for Jefferson, she's concerned about how the district would pay for it.

"I'd like to know what sort of creative options we might have to cobble together some funding for this that would minimize what we'd have to go to the public and ask for," she said.

Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris said that options for funding could include a bond issuance, funds from the sale of a District 200 property or restructured debt. 

Board members lauded the plans for a new facility and agreed on the need to focus on the big picture of an improved preschool facility. "You'd be amazed at what we don't have relative to the needs of special needs kids these days," said board member Ken Knicker. 

Board member Jim Vroman said while the plans may be a hard sell in today's economic climate, "I think we're obligated to take a look at this." 

Staff will prepare more information on how the district could fund a new Jefferson, with the consideration of incorporating district offices in conjunction with the Jefferson site and Brosnan's recommendations to sell its Woodland property and renovate the current School Service Center for facility and technical services.

The next Board of Education meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9 at , 1125 Wheaton Avenue.

Editor's note: A correction was made to the total square footage of the new building. The previous number, 37,674, referred only to the facility space and not its walls, hallways and additional spaces. 

Maria October 27, 2011 at 04:14 PM
"A replacement could cost around $16 million for a 52,744-square-foot building, Brosnan said"... Are they crazy? At $300/sf you could build a high-rise. Perhaps what the District really needs is a different architect?
billy October 27, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Wow does this sound familiar, public building designed for school use that is now 53 years old that MUST be replaced and include more facilities. How many more CUSD 200 facilities have lives limited to ages of board members before being retired ? Did the architects 50 years ago not only include a cornerstone but a crash down date ? Wheaton does have a 'Pride in Preservation' recognition of homes - mostly frame, original train station at Cosley, Gary Carriage House, Adams Library, Old Court House, Wheaton College buildings, Front Street business buildings, Chicago Golf Clubhouse and others well over 50 years old. Are these vintage buildings being maintained to extent their useful lives or condemn like old Huble as too costly to maintain. Sure would like to see the spreadsheet of all CUSD 200 facilities and when they will be replaced. Wheaton should be sick at this proposal - are we that are living in older than 53 year old homes again going to pass a levy with regrets before the landscaping has taken hold at the new facility ???
Chris Smith October 27, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Why do we even consider this? It is "pre" school. The School District should not be involved. Pat Quinn and the state board have no proof that preschool has ANY impact. I think we could do a lot more for $50,000/ student....
cubbysox October 28, 2011 at 02:49 AM
I have always been impressed by CUSD 200s ability to use their money wisely and provide excellent education. This would be another impressive win for all of the district, improving property values because of the highly rated, well run schools.
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 02:55 AM
What do you mean by impact? And why would lawmakers be the experts on the impact of early childhood education?
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 02:57 AM
There actually will be spreadsheets of all buildings and the repair needs in each one. Staff showed an example of how they'd look Wednesday.
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Thanks for commenting, cubbysox
Louise October 28, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I only wonder why improving the preschool facility must be lumped with building new administrative offices? How about some new paint and carpet for the current admin building and save the rest of the money? And what is "facility and technical services" and why do they suddenly require an entire renovated building? I'd like specifics to justify why current administrative space is not working before adding it onto an academic building proposal. Fancy conference rooms do not improve learning outcomes.
Mark Johnson October 29, 2011 at 01:29 AM
An Adobe copy of the Capital Development Planning Presentation from the Wednesday, October 26, 2011 Board of Education, Committee of the Whole meeting, can be found at www.cusd200.org > Board of Education > Board Meetings > Meeting Highlights. The accompanying podcast that goes along with the Adobe presentation is found at www.cusd200.org > Board of Education > Board Meeting Podcasts. They contain the Capital Development Plan Update and the Jefferson Capital Development Board Grant Update. The presentation includes Lowell Elementary, Franklin Middle School, and Wheaton North High School, and a partial analysis of remodeling or replacing Jefferson Preschool. Wheaton Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 (CUSD 200) is in the process of adding its other schools to this Capital Development/Facilities Plan. Comparing the podcast of the Jefferson Preschool (renewed/renewed plus addition/build new) presentation, to the Adobe copy of the Jefferson Preschool presentation, District 200 omitted the slide prior to the current slide 30, which has the green bar "Option 3 - New Jefferson Pre-School" green bar over the text....that omitted slide didn't have that green bar over the text....whatever that text says?....it's just a sentence or two. Where's the detail on what "program driven" benefits we'll receive with option 3? This presentation was a high level overview but no comprehensive detail was offered to the public.
Melissa October 29, 2011 at 02:36 PM
It is a federal law that school districts provide education for all special needs students from the ages of 3 - 21. Jefferson Pre-school serves 3 and 4 year old students who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because of various special needs, including physical handicaps and developmental delays. These services have a huge impact on these students, despite Governor Quinn's opinion. In addition, there are non-special needs children who attend Jefferson. These students pay tuition that is above and beyond the fees paid for elementary, middle and high school.
billy October 29, 2011 at 05:16 PM
More thought about WHY the proposed replacement of a 53 year school irritates: Being raised in conservative German city in a slight more affluent suburb than Wheaton, our parents and we attended a grade school that is now over 100 years old and a junior/high school -some what greater facilities than WWS - is now over 90 years old and is recognized as site for state final soccer and football playoffs. Both of these public schools are supported by the communities and alumni to continue into future, no bulldozers, no board ruling old is bad, just good facilities continuing their service to education !
CMA August 30, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Lets look at the amount of students who actually pay tuition with no special needs, compared to those who could afford to pay tuition with special needs, to those who have special needs and can not afford to pay tuition. I have no problem assisting those who can not afford to pay for tuition, and helping their children receive special services, but those who can afford to pay and pay nothing need to start contributing. Jefferson needs to be for those requiring special services. Updating a building does not need to cost this much money. We within the district pay enough taxes. Do we not remember that the sale of the old Wheaton Central was supposed to net 22 million, or they thought..it only net 5 million, and we built Hubble without having the funds up front, which then led to budget cuts. Are we ready for that again? New admin offices? REALLY, there is nothing wrong with the one's that we have. The city should resurface Park Ave., that is in desperate need, but is all. Turn the old offices into vehicle storage, next to an elementary school, I think not. Focus on issues at hand. Look at class sizes, a cap of 30 students in a fourth grade class, with an empty classroom in the school building, that is more important then an Administrative Office face lift in my opinion. What happened to the motto of living with in your means, isn't that the message that we need to start sending, Be happy with what you have, This is one taxpayer that will not vote in favor of this!
Craig March 06, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Does this statement sound crazy to you? "The washrooms and sinks in my home were in dire need of repair and updating so, I tore my whole house down and put up a 52,744 sq foot mansion." No? Yes, updates and repairs must be made as in any building, but this proposal is madness. I'm voting no. I do believe most of us are.
Joe S. March 30, 2013 at 07:15 PM
I am firmly against it for a few reasons. 1.) the proposed plan takes away nearly all of the open land that is currently a play area for kids and families of the area. There will no longer be a big green grass field on Hazleton. 2.) the school district does not even need to provide early child development at the cost of taxpayers. I say sell half the land to KinderCare and build a better park on the rest.
Jeff Sand March 31, 2013 at 05:19 AM
Joe, The Jefferson plan does include open green space on the south end of the property. The school district is working with the park district to develop that part of it. It won't be quite as much as there is now, but there will still be open space and a playground. As for your second point, every school district is in fact required to provide early childhood education for children with special needs 3 and up. They're also required to provide that in what's called "least restrictive environment", which for all intents & purposes means they have to allow some seats for "typical" preshool students (without special needs). Those are the kids whose parents pay tuition where space allows. The law requires that special needs kids spend time in class with non-special needs kids where possible.


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