- Oct 20, 2016
Faced with numerous decisions about the future of an aging, outdated middle school as well as the need for additional classrooms at the two elementary schools to accommodate growing enrollment, Northbrook-Glenview School District 30 could bring a referendum to voters next spring.
A major concern with Maple School, which serves grades 6 – 8, is that the layout is not conducive to current, collaborative teaching methods. In addition, visitor and student foot traffic through the front of the school passes rooms where students receive special services, allowing little privacy. Additional space is needed for science classes which are currently held in general classrooms not containing the necessary amenities. There are also no opportunities for outdoor learning, STEM is in need of additional space, there are no flexible teaming areas and one of the gym needs significant renovation. On top of these deficiencies, there are numerous short and long-term maintenance needs totaling millions of dollars.
“We want to have facilities that support and enhance our instructional vision,” comments School Supt. Brian Wegley, noting that the need to address Maple School deficiencies, which don’t meet current learning standards is critical. “Teaching is now more collaborative and more engaged and there are so many great tools available, but our space has to support that,” he adds. Middle schools need flexible space for collaborative learning, and the current space limits the ability to support emerging programs like STEM.
At Westcott, a minimum of two additional classrooms are needed due to growing enrollment. Both Westcott and Willowbrook have space insufficiencies with learning taking place in hallways and no STEM lab space.
According to Wegley two approaches were originally considered: build a new middle school west of the existing district office, or renovate the current Maple School and address one phase of capacity issues at the elementary schools. It is important to note that if the decision was made not to pursue either of these approaches, District 30 would still need to invest about $18 million in Health/Life Safety and general maintenance improvements at the three schools, most of which are at Maple School.
The school administration has already indicated its support for building a new school. In addition, a 35 member community Task Force also voted unanimously to support a new school, as well as phase 1 of the health/life safety issues and needed instructional space at the elementary school, totaling $4 million. They voted to move forward and survey district voters, conduct building tours, and generally educate the community about the building and educational needs.
The Task Force reflects a cross section of the community with 40% parents of students and 60% non-parents. Rules set forth by the Task Force required two-thirds of the members to be in agreement on any final recommendation. Construction of a new school and the other school improvements would require a referendum vote.
Already the firm ARCON Architects has drawn up preliminary plans for a possible new middle school to replace the 67 year-old Maple School. The new building would increase square footage from 89,000 to 110,000. ARCON estimates the construction cost at $40.6 million to build the new school, a process that could take up to 18 months, and would not disrupt learning in the current school. The old building would then be torn down and the campus would be updated with parking and a soccer field.
Estimates for remodeling Maple School to mirror most of what a new building would offer would have cost $38.6 million, which is why that option is not being pursued. At a minimum, the school needs remodeling that would entail moving the front office to the northwest part of the building, remodeling key areas, including the science labs where one lacks access to water and gas. Also two classrooms in the back of the school need updating, one of the gyms should be updated along with a bank of classrooms that “have all kinds of issues,” according to Wegley. This “compromise” remodeling would still run over $24 million, but this approach was rejected by the Citizens’ Task Force
Dr. Wegley emphasized that the process of defining the district’s direction, “is designed to be respectful and inclusive of the community.”
In order to be on the ballot in April 2017, a decision would have to be made by the School Board before the January filing date. If the deadline is missed, or a decision is made not to go to referendum, the next opportunity to have a referendum would not be until March 2018.