Dear Chairman Borelli and Members of the D64 Board,
On April 2nd the Washington School community gathered to discuss the outcomes of the March 18 Board meeting and your directive to the D64 Administration to further investigate a construction option that would eliminate our school auditorium and construct three interior classrooms to address our current space issues. Over fifty parents, staff and community members agreed that this current proposal is deeply flawed, was hastily approved and is not in the best interests of our school, Washington students or taxpayers. The Washington community is united in our demand for a thoughtful and fiscally responsible long-term solution for our worsening over-crowding. Any reasonable solution must include new general education classrooms and multi-purpose space.
While we appreciate the Board’s attempt to have a solution in place for the 2019-2020 school year, the current proposal has serious drawbacks that render it untenable:
- The immediate need is for an additional three general ed classrooms. The lack of windows in the proposed plan would make this space unsuitable for general education purposes. The Board suggestion that this space could be used for fine arts ignores the reality that we need general education classrooms.
- The auditorium is currently used for inside recess, organizing children for the bus, assemblies, grade level gatherings, music classes, author visits, V-Show, curriculum night, kindergarten orientation, vision/hearing screening and other activities. Eliminating common gathering space in a school already at capacity is short-sighted and will leave students feeling like they’re being punished for planning decisions in which they had no voice.
- Spending at least $650k for renovations that merely punts the problem without really solving any of our current space issues, but instead creates new problems, is short-sighted and an irresponsible use of public money. Those dollars will be better spent as part of a long-term, thoughtful solution.
We ask the Board postpone any vote on the proposed renovations and reconsider your proposal to eliminate our auditorium. Instead, we ask that you consider other reasonable options that include the addition of general education classrooms and a multi-purpose space, at a minimum. Some feedback that was discussed at our recent meeting included the following suggestions:
- Reexamine any planning documents for the Washington addition that was under discussion in 2015;
- Assess the possibility of utilizing modular construction for a cost-effective addition, looking to districts such as Mundelein as a model;
- Research and present to the Board and community an assessment of the costs and timelines associated with other temporary solutions (including modular construction) as a possibility for the 2019-2020 school year;
- Research and present to the Board any option of utilizing Jefferson or other community spaces for incoming Kindergarten for 2019-2020 school year with busing to and from Washington;
- Ensure the space needs of SPED students are part of any assessment;
- Share information and consider teacher and parent input as part of decision making.
We look forward to working with the Board to find a solution that protects the quality of education for our students and makes the smartest investment of our shared resources. We appreciate your service and look forward to hearing from you soon.