What we know about the latest plans for DeKalb’s new elementary school

DeKalb School District 428 seeks ideas for new elementary school name, applications for principal, assistant principal, construction bids

The former Northern Illinois University School of Nursing building Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2023, on the corner of Ridge Drive and Normal Road in DeKalb.

DeKALB – It’s been more than six months since the DeKalb School District 428 board authorized a $1.86 million lease purchase agreement with Northern Illinois University to attain the rights to occupy the former School of Nursing building and turn it into a new elementary school.

Now, district leaders are soliciting ideas from the public on what to name the new school, taking applications for its first principal and assistant principal and bids for its construction.

The property, 1240 Normal Road, is comprised of a single-story, 24,000 square-foot structure on 9.1 acres.

A new three-section elementary school, once renovated, is expected to welcome students and staff in the fall of 2025.

The plan is meant to help reduce class sizes from 28 to 25 for grades K-5 and 35 to 30 for Grades 6-12 as redistricting is intended to follow when budgets and facilities allow, district officials have said.

At a recent public meeting, district staff briefed the school board on the latest concerning the new elementary school planned for the city’s north side.

Name ideas needed by Thursday

The public will get an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the naming of the new elementary during the district’s next Community Conversation set for 5 p.m. Feb. 22 at Clinton Rosette Middle School, 650 N. First Street, DeKalb.

The school board is expected to be presented at a future meeting with the top four proposed names for consideration and will have the final say on what the new school is named.

The district will accept recommendations for names to call the new elementary school through Thursday, 15, officials said.

Anyone with name suggestions is asked to fill out the Google form with information on the significance of the proposed name. Groups and organizations have the chance to submit an entry, as well.

New school’s new leaders

Billy Hueramo, the district’s director of teaching and learning – primary education, said the best time to start finding building leadership is between now and March.

“We don’t want to wait too long to start hiring assistant principals and principals of this building,” Hueramo said. “They are really going to be the driving force of the staff that we’re going to have at the building, so we’d like to request having them begin in August.”

Once the selections are in place for the new elementary school’s principal and assistant principal, they will be tasked with conducting all the interviews of candidates, both internal and external, to staff their building.

Hueramo said the sooner a principal and assistant principal are in place at the new elementary school, the better it will be for all buildings that may be impacted.

“They would really appreciate if we knew who the staff at the new building was going to be tentatively by no later than December because they have to start, if somebody moves internally,” he said. “They have to start hiring for the year after at their buildings, as well.”

The board is expected to put this matter to a vote during its Feb. 20 meeting.

Construction bids

The total approved budget, which is estimated not to exceed $33.85 million, lists eight alternate bids.

They vary in scope, including everything from replacing the north parking lot and re-roofing the existing building to adding door operators in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to school board documents.

District staff is recommending that the school board reject two of the alternates, one for a $407,548 outdoor classroom, and another for a $333,531 install card access on interior doors.

The board also is expected to put this matter to a vote during its Feb. 20 meeting.

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