DeKalb District 428 could buy NIU School of Nursing’s building to alleviate overcrowding

The school board was briefed on talks to acquire the facility from NIU to address class size and overcrowding in the district’s classrooms.

Members of the DeKalb District 428 school board are seen Sept. 6, 2022 engaging in discussing at their bimonthly board meeting.

DeKALB – The leadership at DeKalb School District 428 is weighing the idea of acquiring the Northern Illinois University School of Nursing building to help reduce class sizes and overcrowding in the district’s schools.

A presentation delivered Tuesday night briefed the school board on talks that have been ongoing between school district officials and the university.

“It’s an option that the district could look to acquire this building,” said Tammy Carson, district director of facility and operations. “[NIU officials] are looking [as if it] could be a surplus building in the future.”

The building, located at 1240 Normal Road in DeKalb, has been reviewed and considered among many options the district’s administration found and viewed that could support the Class Size Committee’s May 2021 recommendation to the school board to reduce class size when facilities and budgets allow.

The district is seeking to lower its class size threshold from 28 to 25 for grades K-5 and 35 to 30 for grades 6-12, according to school board documents.

During a recent tentative budget discussion, school officials said the district will need to account for facility needs, potential expansion in enrollment and reducing class size by incorporating those variables into the projections once a plan is developed and costs are known. In doing so, the district anticipates considering additional staffing to support reducing class size as well.

The building stands at 24,000 square feet on 9.1 acres of land, according to school board documents. It was formerly home to District 428′s Roberts School building. But in 1987, the facility was sold to NIU where it more recently has been occupied by the School of Nursing, according to school board documents.

A proposal for the acquisition and renovation of the building could be presented to the school board for consideration at a later date.