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Oak Ridge School to move; new District 300 offices planned

Updated: March 13, 2014 6:27AM



The Oak Ridge Alternative School in Carpentersville could be moving into the District 300 headquarters at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Before that happens a series of staff shifts are needed and building construction must get underway.

Community Unit School District 300 sold the property where Oak Ridge School sits to the Children’s Home and Aid Society (CHAS). The sale was finalized Monday. The group plans to build a preschool on the site.

Rather than build a new school, administrators are recommending that the district move Oak Ridge School to the Central Office facility on Cleveland Avenue and construct new office space that can house all district office staff under one roof.

School administrators Monday night outlined each phase of the plan. The school board is expected to approve the plans at its Feb. 24 meeting.

The goal is to have Oak Ridge students starting at the Cleveland Avenue site this fall.

Before that happens, the staff members who work in the Central Office would have to vacate the property so work can begin turning the office space into classrooms.

Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin said the renovations are estimated to cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million, which would be offset by $750,000 from the sale of the Oak Ridge property and a $50,000 grant from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Assistant Superintendent for Operations Chuck Bumbales said that if the school board approves the plans later this month, effective April 1 the Central Office staff will temporarily be relocated to Hampshire High School. The workers would remain in Hampshire until new, larger offices are built on district property in Algonquin near Jacobs High School, at the corner of Golden Eagle and Harnish drives.

Harkin estimated the cost for the new office space would be around $5 million and $5.5 million.

While the district has the ability to lease the current Oak Ridge site through the next school year, construction noise and traffic and parking already will be an issue this spring when CHAS breaks ground on the preschool, Bumbales said.

Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Shelley Nacke said mobile units never were intended to be a permanent solution for housing students.

The school was established in 1998 to address a special education audit finding that required a public day school for grades six through 12. Since first opening with 15 students, the school has expanded to include special education students who need a small, structured setting as well as “safe school” students, those who are expulsion-eligible and suspension-eligible.

Nacke said Oak Ridge has no cafeteria or gymnasium, so lunch programs and the physical education curriculum are limited.

Moving to Cleveland Avenue would allow students access to neighboring Carpentersville Middle School’s gymnasium before CMS students start their day. In addition, hot lunch could be provided via CMS.



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