Superintendent Dr. Adrian Talley explained District 204 has space for roughly 31,000 total students, and currently has around 26,000 students enrolled, with around 4,000 unfilled elementary spaces. “That’s why you could conceivably close a school and still have space for children, and have space for reduced class sizes,” he said.
Clow and Graham Elementary Schools are currently proposed for closure, or repurposing, in the district’s “Concept #1.” The move is meant to help the district’s problem of overcapacity in northern schools and underutilization in the south.
Third party district demographer RSP and Associates CEO Robert Schwarz said moving kids from northern schools to the south would not totally solve the problem. His firm chose Clow and Graham elementary schools for proposed closure, as they were the smallest south side buildings. “Smaller buildings makes it easier for being able to take students from a smaller area into a larger school,” Schwarz said.
Talley said if schools are repurposed, they could be used for staff development, expansion of pre-school programs, or support of the district’s STEPS program. The buildings could also be sold. Selling or developing a preschool program would not happen immediately, but rather take place in a couple years, Talley said.
Talley also gave some insight on potential uses for Concept #3’s proposed innovation spaces in each school.
Innovation spaces could potentially be used as STEM labs in elementary schools. Funding and equipment from the John C Dunham STEM Partnership School, which is set to close at the end of this school year, would support the labs.
“We spend approximately $400,000 to $500,000 a year on this STEM school,” Talley said. “That money could then be reallocated to support the STEM [labs]. Our schools already have STEM equipment; we could purchase additional equipment, and that would be used to support those STEM labs.”
The spaces could also potentially be used as office spaces for parent-teacher associations, Talley said. “PTAs are important parts of our schools,” he said. “They often don’t have a space to work in the building.”
The district is holding a third and final boundary community forum Wednesday night at Metea Valley High School. The boundary committee will meet at least once more December 8 to implement feedback from the forums.
The concepts will then be sent to the District 204 Board of Education as proposals for review. They are expected to take action on any changes in January 2022.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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