The Plainfield School District 202 Board of Education voted, 5-2, Monday to approve the construction of an 18th elementary school.
The new school will help the district achieve its goal of having enough space to offer full-day kindergarten to all eligible students, according to a news release sent late Monday.
Board members Heather Drake and Michael Robey voted no. Both stressed they support the concept of and need for full-day kindergarten, but questioned the project’s costs and preferred getting more information about other options, the release said.
More information will be released in the coming months, but district officials provided some details about the new endeavor:
• The building will be a full-service, K-5 elementary school.
• It will be similar in size and design to the last few elementary schools built and will house 800 students.
• It will be built on land the district already owns, the exact site has not yet been determined; it will take two to three years to build.
• The school will stabilize space requirements and assignments
for several specialized programs
that currently move to different buildings based on need and available space.
• It will cost about $25 million, but the district will use a special “leasing” option and pay the bank $2.5 million a year for 10 years; after 10 years the district will take ownership.
• Personnel and operational costs will add about $2 million a year.
The district will not have to increase tax rates to pay for the new building, according to the release. Individual tax bills might increase based on individual property values, but the district’s tax rate will reportedly not increase because of the project.
The district also will adjust attendance boundaries as needed when the project nears completion.
The District 202 community has identified full-day kindergarten as a high priority for many years, the release said.
However, the 17 current elementary schools do not have enough space to accommodate the estimated 1,500 students who would be eligible.
As well, unique space requirements for various special education, early childhood and at-risk programs also limit the room available for full-day kindergarten.
The district has offered a limited full-day kindergarten program for the past three years through a computerized random lottery to 24 students per elementary school.
That limited full-day program will continue until the new school opens.