St. Charles School District still mulling over reorganization of elementary schools

School buses

The St. Charles School District 303 school board was scheduled to vote last night on a new plan to repurpose district buildings because of overcrowding, but instead, they pushed the vote to a future meeting.

At the meeting, administration recommended the proposed changes and funding method, which were discussed at length before tabling the vote.

Under the proposed changes, the district would repurpose Fox Ridge Early Childhood Center as an elementary school and Lincoln Elementary School would be repurposed to house transition programming and staff offices.

The Haines Center would house early childhood learning and maintain Compass Academy. The gymnasium would remain available for public use.

The Haines Center currently houses Compass Academy, the transition program, staff offices and park district programming. The district’s ability to maintain Compass Academy while also fitting early childhood learning in the Haines Center has been a topic of concern from residents during public comments at last night’s and at recent meetings.

Under the proposed changes, Lincoln Elementary would require renovations including constructing offices, classrooms and installing a new elevator. The Haines Center would require renovations and construction of early childhood classrooms.

The estimated cost for these changes is $15 million. Staff recommended funding the project using long-term debt, and estimated that the project will lead to a property tax increase of $6.15 per $100,000 of residents’ home values.

If the changes are approved, construction contracts are expected to go out for bid in September. Work would begin next summer and be completed before the school year begins in the fall of 2024.

School board members have been considering these changes since the April 10 board meeting, when the board established the district’s minimum space standards.

The minimum space standards for elementary schools require each building to have at least 21 classrooms – 18 core classrooms, two elective classrooms and one repurposed classroom. Lincoln Elementary School currently has 12 classrooms.

Boundary changes to the district’s enrollment zones are the next step in the district’s facilities master plan. The school board will begin reviewing the zone changes this fall and they would go into effect at the start of the 2024-25 school year.