January 27, 2015
 Our Vision: Ignite Passion. Inspire Excellence. Imagine Possibilities.

Important Information Regarding D41 Facilities

Dear District 41 Community, 

I want to share important information that could significantly impact all of the schools in our district and all of the communities we serve.

At the Board of Education meeting last night, we presented facilities plans options to support full-day kindergarten, create greater flexibility in our schools, and eliminate the remaining 14 portables at Churchill and Hadley Junior High. We have been engaged in on-going discussions for some time about facilities and how full-day kindergarten and other programs will impact our schools. The Board of Education set two priorities:

1) Remove portables
2) Right-size our schools

They are now considering full-day kindergarten as a third Board priority. Below I have summarized the key points presented and discussed at the Board of Education meeting last night.

Full-Day Kindergarten
All of our elementary school buildings are physically stressed. They have been this way for a long time. This is not a new conversation, however what is new is that we cannot bring any additional programs into our district due to space limitations. We cannot offer full-day kindergarten.

We know that there are many benefits to full-day kindergarten including:

  • Student Achievement - Data demonstrates that children in full-day classes show greater reading and mathematics achievement gains than those in half-day classes
  • Improves Social and Emotional Skills - A full day of learning offers social, emotional and intellectual benefits to students. They have more time to focus on activities, to reflect on activities and to transition between activities
  • Sound Financial Investment - Recent research has demonstrated that funds invested in quality early education programs produce powerful returns on investment
  • Teachers Prefer Full-Day - Teachers get to know students better; they are able to develop a richer understanding of students' needs and, in turn, develop activities and lessons to meet those needs
  • Optimal for Parents - Comparison studies demonstrate that parents prefer full-day kindergarten

There is support for full-day kindergarten:

  • Education community believes in the benefits of full-day kindergarten
  • District 41 survey favored full-day kindergarten
  • District 41 Team 21 and CIT supports full-day kindergarten
  • Majority of Glenbard feeder districts are now offering full-day kindergarten - all except for us and Marquardt (St. Petronille School also recently announced that they will offer full-day kindergarten next fall)

The question is, how do we increase space in our district to support full-day kindergarten?

Facilities Plans to Support Full-Day Kindergarten
The three options that the district has explored to address Board priorities and to support full-day kindergarten include:

  • Modifying Existing Elementary Schools
  • Building a New K-5 School on District 41 property
  • Building a New Early Learning Center (Pre K - K) on District 41 property

These three options were outlined in detail at the Board meeting last night. The district presented space utilization plans for each of the school buildings and FGM Architects presented physical site concepts of the proposed new construction (Note: For safety reasons, we are not able to release floor plans or maps of schools). These plans were created to explore space for full-day kindergarten and to provide flexible learning space in all of our schools, STEAM labs at all elementary schools and collaborative teacher work space in each and every building.

CLICK HERE for the Board of Education presentation outline.

Please note that all of the plans presented to the Board are proposals. They are NOT approved/final plans. We will not develop the final details until after the Board takes action.

Need for Space
Although we are currently adding new classrooms to our elementary schools to replace portables, we are NOT gaining any additional space. The new classrooms are room for room replacements. These new classrooms are allowing all of the children in our schools to be under the same roof with their peers and in close proximity to core spaces such as restrooms, lunchrooms, support services, and other classrooms.

These new classrooms are allowing us to eliminate 16 portables at our four elementary schools. We recently opened four new classrooms at Lincoln and four at Franklin. Additional new classrooms will be opening this summer, five at Churchill and four at Forest Glen. The Board is also committed to removing the remaining portables at Churchill and Hadley.

Churchill Portables
Four portables remain at Churchill. As a first step, prior to starting on any other facilities projects, I am recommending that we replace these four remaining portables with new classrooms. This is necessary in order to fulfill the next steps toward accomplishing our priorities - removing portables, right sizing and also considering full-day kindergarten. A formal recommendation will be presented to the Board of Education at the February 9 Board of Education meeting. If approved by the Board, this project would be funded by unused allowances from current elementary construction and fund balances.

Hadley Portables and Proposed Plans
Ten portable classrooms are currently in use at Hadley. In order to remove these portables we need to plan for new classrooms. Also, Hadley's cafeteria and performance space are lacking. Plans were presented last night for a Cafetorium to include space for lunch and performance space with seating for up to 500 people. In order to make plans like these a reality, the Board of Education will need to approve them along with any other options at the elementary schools as explained above. Funds for this size of a project do not exist within the district budget.

Creating space in order to accomplish the Board of Education's goals, 1) Remove portables 2) Right-size schools and the possible third goal of offering full-day kindergarten, would require a referendum.

The estimated costs for all of these plan proposals are detailed in the presentation outline, CLICK HERE.

Next Steps and Timeline
The Board of Education will be holding Community Listening Sessions. I hope you will consider attending and engaging in this conversation. CLICK HERE to sign up.

Saturday, January 31, 10:30 a.m., Hadley Junior High School, Library Media Center
Wednesday, February 4, 7 p.m., Hadley Junior High School, Library Media Center

At the Board of Education meeting on February 9, we plan to bring the following recommendations for discussion:

  • Remove four portables at Churchill and add four new classrooms
  • Facilities plan recommendation to support full-day kindergarten and a recommendation to remove 10 portables at Hadley, add new classrooms and a Cafetorium

I am hopeful that the Board will take action on these recommendations at the February 23 Board of Education meeting.

Thank you for your support as we plan for the future. I hope you will join us this Saturday or next Wednesday for the Community Listening Sessions on these topics.

Thank you.

Paul Gordon
Glen Ellyn School District 41
Please direct your questions or comments about E-News to District 41 Chief Communications Officer Erika Krehbiel, ekrehbiel@d41.org. We ask that you do not reply directly to this email because such replies are not received and so cannot be answered. Thank you!