District 300 swaps Oak Ridge School property

CARPENTERSVILLE – District 300 inched closer to finding a permanent home for students at its alternative Oak Ridge School after board members recently agreed to swap properties with a child care non-profit.

Under the real estate deal, Carpentersville-based District 300 and the Children's Home and Aid society will act as landlords for their newly-acquired properties through July 2015.

The move ensures that Oak Ridge students won't be forced to leave when the sale of the temporary facility closes on Feb. 10, said Chuck Bumbales, assistant superintendent of operations. The district now will focus on finding a new location for those students, an effort that has taken officials nearly 10 years.

"We didn't want people to think that the sale was closed and now you are out on the street," Bumbales said. "Obviously, that wouldn't work for anybody."

The agreement allows District 300 to maintain its Oak Ridge operation along Marian Road in Carpentersville rent-free from the child care non-profit through summer 2015.

The society, meanwhile, will continue to operate its early childhood center for at-risk children at 116 Carpenter Boulevard, Carpentersville, rent-free from the district.

The district initially agreed to sell the Oak Ridge property to the society for $750,000 last July, but the child care group is just now completing Carpentersville's zoning process for a proposed preschool at the Oak Ridge site.

The July 2015 lease expiration grants district officials some leeway in finding a new location for Oak Ridge, an alternative school for students with behavioral problems, before the children's society opens its new preschool.

The district could use the Carpenter Boulevard site as a new home for Oak Ridge, or administrators could use that property for something else since its located next to the district's Parkview Elementary school, Bumbales said.

"The beauty of it is that it's adjacent to Parkview Elementary," he said. "It provides us with a lot of different opportunities down the road. We just haven't determined yet which opportunity is best for us."

The administration plans on presenting the board possible locations for Oak Ridge in February or March, said spokesperson Allison Strupeck.

The current site contains temporary classroom trailers that limits the amount of students admitted into Oak Ridge. The district could nearly double enrollment at the school if it had bigger space, Strupeck said.

"It's not ideal for students," she said.

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