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Local

St. Charles School Board to obtain costs on repurposing now-closed Haines Middle School

Vote 6-1 to direct ATS&R to provide architectural and engineering services for the project

The St. Charles District 303 School Board wants to get more information about what it would cost to repurpose the now closed Haines Middle School.
At their June 10 meeting, board members voted 6-1 to direct ATS&R to provide architectural and engineering services for the project.
The St. Charles District 303 School Board wants to get more information about what it would cost to repurpose the now closed Haines Middle School. At their June 10 meeting, board members voted 6-1 to direct ATS&R to provide architectural and engineering services for the project.

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles District 303 School Board wants to get more information about what it would cost to repurpose the now closed Haines Middle School.

At their June 10 meeting, board members voted 6-1 to direct ATS&R to provide architectural and engineering services for the project. The work will include alterations associated with the temporary accommodation of the St. Charles Public Library and the permanent accommodation of district offices, the district's transition program and the NorthEast Academy. In addition, the St. Charles Park District proposes to use space in the building's gym along with the band, choir and orchestra areas.

"For the district to really be able to move forward in understanding the cost of the sharing of the facility that we have proposed with the library as well as the park district, we're going to need some of these documents developed," School District Superintendent Jason Pearson told board members. "We have to understand the cost differential between the demolition costs over a period of time if we phase in the building. We need to understand what the costs would be for electrical upgrades. We need to understand what the cost would be for accessibility upgrades. We need to understand what the costs would be for the improvement to the restroom facilities, which the park district is interested in sharing those costs or paying those costs as they move into that portion of the building."

Much of the work is expected to be done by the board's July 29 business services committee meeting, he said.

Board member Heidi Fairgrieve was the sole "no" vote.

"I don't think it really fits with our master facility plan development strategy," she said.

The district is planning to update its facility master plan, a process could take between 12 and 18 months. The last time the plan was updated was in 2008.

"It's about time to do it," Seth Chapman, the district's assistant superintendent of business services and chief financial officer, had told board members at their June 3 business services committee meeting. "We're hitting a point in time when I think by the time this report is due, you'll probably have some ideas and thoughts for what you want to do with your facilities to make them fit the programmatic needs for the future."

St. Charles Public Library officials are proposing to use part of the building on a temporary basis as the library prepares to undergo a renovation project. In 2016, the board approved a plan to upgrade Wredling Middle School, renovate Thompson Middle School and close Haines Middle School by fall 2019.

Staff is recommending the building's two-story wing be razed sooner rather than later. A new entryway into the LRC would be designed after the wing is demolished, he said.

"When the library vacates in August of 2021, we will look at the sixth grade wing and do a demo there," Chapman had said. "The cost difference between demolishing the sixth grade wing with the two story wing versus what it would be a year and half, two years later, that's another piece that we can put in the discussion with the library. They might be willing to pay for that cost difference."

Board members have been studying four different options for the building, with a cost ranging from $3.7 to $4.7 million. The district's programming needs include finding space for the district's college and career center (which includes both the district's transition program and the NorthEast Academy); growing and expanding the community preschool program; creating professional learning spaces for staff, parent and community education; creating a district board room and having a unified department of instruction office along with a unified district administration office.

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