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Alden-Hebron School District 19 has pending contract for 80 acres of land

With middle/high school nearly 100 years old, district mulling new building

HEBRON – The Alden-Hebron School District 19 Board voted on Tuesday on two items that indicate future, and at this time strictly potential, plans to address an aging middle and high school building.

The board approved a land purchase contract, which now is pending, for about 80 acres on the corner of Price and Kemman roads, down the street from the current elementary school and middle/high school, Superintendent Debbie Ehlenburg said.

“We just completed a facility study, and one of the things we’re contemplating is what to do at the high school,” Ehlenburg said. “Our middle/high school is over 90 years old.”

The heating and electrical systems are not set up for 21st-century learning, she said, noting that initiatives such as one-to-one technology, putting a device in each student’s hands, are difficult in the building.

Ehlenburg said the land purchase contract lays out a cost of about $9,500 per acre and allows the school district six months to carry out any due diligence, which prompted the second item approved Tuesday – the hiring of Yorkville-based Midwest Environmental to conduct an environmental study of the land.

The facility study, presented at the November meeting, was conducted along with the 10-year life safety audit, Ehlenburg said. At its conclusion, a few different options were laid out, including renovating and adding onto the high school building; building onto the elementary site; or building a new space.

At this point, no official decisions have been made, the superintendent said, adding the land purchase agreement is something the board has been looking into for a number of years in preparation for any changes that had to be made in the future.

“The driver is the middle/high school building. The driver is not growth,” Ehlenburg said. “It’s the cost of updating and expanding versus potentially building.”

The high school building currently is housed on about 5 acres of land and the elementary school on about 25 acres. Ehlenburg said some of the athletic facilities are located on the elementary school land, as is the transportation facility, because there’s not enough space on the high school’s side of the street.

“They’ve (the board) been searching for land for a long time,” she said, adding funding will come partially from impact fees and savings the district has built up. “They just know between now and five years from now, they’ll need to develop some plan and get input from the community.”

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