St. Charles School Board members seek data on academic performance of Compass Academy students

St. Charles School Board District 303

St. Charles School Board members want to know how students in the newly opened Compass Academy are performing before making a decision on whether to spend an estimated $1.8 million on classroom improvements.

Compass Academy opened in the fall in the Haines Center, which is the former Haines Middle School. The district promotes the program as one that allows for flexible scheduling, project-based learning, interdisciplinary courses and competency-based education that also allows students to enroll in college classes while still in high school.

District officials said there is a need for modern science labs and additional teaching space to accommodate growing enrollment at Compass Academy. It currently has an enrollment of 86 students and that is expected to grow to between 175 and 200 students in the 2023-2024 school year.

The district’s administration has endorsed a plan to renovate the entire E wing of Haines for program expansion at an estimated cost of $1.8 million. Board member Joseph Lackner along with other board members expressed reservations about moving ahead with the project without knowing how the students are doing.

“I think the request for an additional $2 million in investment in this building is a hard ask without any performance results coming out of where we stand today,” he said during the School Board’s Business Services Committee meeting on Monday.

Board members Heidi Fairgrieve and Ed McNally voiced similar concerns.

“I don’t know what the data shows,” Fairgrieve said. “I don’t know if it’s been successful up to this point.”

McNally agreed.

“I’d like to know a little more about where we’re at and where we’re going with Compass Academy,” he said.

The academic data is expected to be ready for board members to review by January. St. Charles School Superintendent Jason Pearson said he understood the concerns of board members.

“I don’t want you to feel rushed,” he said. “I want you to feel completely comfortable and supportive. At the same time, it’s a portion of the building that we can’t use at all except to store things in. So at some point, we’ve got to renovate it, whether we used it for Compass or not. If we don’t tear it down, we need to do some renovation so that it can be used for professional learning or it can be used for community events or it can be used for classroom space and that cost is only going to continue to go up.”

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.