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Feedback Sought on Kindergarten Center

The Vernon Hills Park District Board of Park Commissioners and Hawthorn District 73 representatives met on Tuesday, January 3 to discuss and receive feedback from the public on a potential partnership for the development of a Kindergarten Center adjacent to the Sullivan Center Park District facility. Due to holiday schedules, the Hawthorn School Board did not have a meeting but was represented by School Board President Jeff Bard and Superintendent Nick Brown. The new Kindergarten Center would be constructed to house 18 kindergarten classrooms.

Moving forward now with the project would help with the escalated growth District 73 is experiencing. Since May, 2016, the district has enrolled 135 new students. The Kindergarten Center would free up classrooms in all the elementary schools while the district tackles the long term growth that is anticipated to increase by up to 705 students within 10 years to 5,069 students.

It was shared that the partnership would benefit taxpayers by saving dollars. The Park District and School District would share facility space. District 73 would not need to build a gym as students would use the new gym being constructed onto the Sullivan Center. Also, there would be no need to purchase land for this project as it would be leased from the Park District to Hawthorn District 73. Details of the lease still need to be worked out but a nominal fee of $1 was mentioned. The School District would be able to use shared parking lots as well. The Park District will have access to meeting room space in the new Kindergarten Center after school hours. An additional benefit would be experienced by children that attend the Park District pre-school programs and then attend kindergarten in the adjacent building. This proposed Kindergarten Center would encourage shared services among the Park District, School District and Library District as all three would be on the same campus providing an additional benefit to the community.

Attendees at this first meeting included parents, community members, other governmental representatives from the community including Mayor Roger Byrne. Mayor Byrne shared his support for the intergovernmental partnership and encouraged further discussions about this project as he agreed the Kindergarten Center would benefit all parties involved.

The District 73 Board of Education will independently approve an Educational Facilities Master Plan to address long range building and learning needs in the district. The Kindergarten Center concept is part of both EFMP options presented to the School Board on December 12 and is one portion of a longer range facility plan being considered for the district.

The School Board has shared its intent to pay for the Kindergarten Center with district cash reserves and/or existing bond financing.

The District 73 School Board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, January 9 for a regular scheduled board meeting in the District Board Room, 841 West End Court, Vernon Hills, to discuss further the Educational Facilities Master Plan. Prior to the Board Meeting, at 6 p.m., the Board will meet with the Core Team. The District 73 School Board will meet jointly with the Vernon Hills Park District Board of Commissioners at 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 10 at the Sullivan Center, 635 N. Aspen Dr., Vernon Hills, to further receive feedback from the public on the kindergarten center concept.  Special School Board meetings are planned for Wednesday January 11 and Thursday January 12 to continue discussions, if necessary, to reach decisions on an Educational Facilities Master Plan.