ALGONQUIN – A dual-language children’s learning facility and day care could revive a former furniture store in Algonquin.
Kids Island Learning Center owners are proposing to buy the 30,454-square-foot building on the east side of Algonquin at 1600 E. Algonquin Road.
The center would provide developmental and educational services for children ages 3 months to 12 years old, and will feature dual-language programs in Polish and English. The day care’s mission is to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for cultural diversities, according to village documents.
“We have a significant Polish population in the village, so having a day care that will provide this environment in both languages will be beneficial for the village,” Senior Planner Katie Parkhurst said.
Algonquin trustees at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting approved the center’s request for a special use permit, which would allow the center to operate in a predominantly commercial site. A formal vote on the permit will be up for consideration by the Village Board on Sept. 5.
The day care wouldn’t generate any sales tax as did Rec Room Furniture, which went out of business in 2008.
“In the grand scheme, it’s hard to answer if it hurts the village,” Assistant Village Manager Mike Kumbera said. “This has been a vacant space for a while, and is now being filled, so we view that as a positive for the area.”
Kids Island owner Krzysztof Szczepaniec said he first opened the center in 2008 after his wife, Monika Nawrot, struggled to find a dual-language day care for their daughter. Kids Island has locations in Shiller Park, Northbrook and Hanover Park.
Szczepaniec said they wanted to expand to Algonquin because he knew there was a large Polish population. He estimates 75 percent to 85 percent of the students speak Polish at the other locations.
“We are very careful when choosing the location because we are trying to help Polish families and help the children develop,” he said. “It’s the only language they know at home, and they need help transitioning to regular public schools.”
Children are taught in Polish and English, and a greater emphasis is placed on English as they prepare to enter kindergarten.
“We have quite a few mixed families in the country we live in, and kids have a chance to integrate with many descents,” Szczepaniec said. “On top of that, we are helping families with kids with disabilities by working with experts to evaluate if someone needs assistance. Kids can integrate and help them have a regular life.”
The interior of the building would be reconfigured into 10 classrooms, a reception area and office space. The warehouse space would be used as an inside play area. Outside, an outdoor play area would be added with fencing.
The center would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with learning blocks from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The center will employ at least 15 teachers to start. Tuition rates will range from $210 to $230 a week for full-time care and $155 a week for only after-school learning program.