Batavia Dist. 101 for Hosting Building Plan Forums

Batavia Unit District 101 is asking residents to provide feedback on the condition of its school buildings at several forums as the district plans to rebuild up to four schools.

The first “Building Our Future Together” session will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1 at Batavia High School, 1201 Main St.

Architect Keri Vansant will provide an update on the condition of the buildings. Then comments will be taken. The results and a long-term facility plan will be presented to the school board in the spring.

The team overseeing the sessions is led by Kelly Bleakley, a 2017 Batavia High School graduate; Ginny Gaspar, a retired teacher from St. Charles School District; and Brian Schwab, a 1991 graduate.

Last spring, a committee proposed to rebuild several schools and renovate the rest. He suggested the district consider closing an elementary school due to a 15% drop in enrollment in the district since 2014.

The committee’s report estimated that the work would cost at least $86 million. The district should borrow money to pay for the project. But it would take voter approval to borrow money.

The schools to be rebuilt are the four oldest: JB Nelson, the original part of which was built in 1955; Alice Gustafson, 1957; and Louise White and HC Storm, both built in 1978.

The 2021 report estimated that it would cost between $18 million and $22 million to replace each school.

The district then sought public comment on the committee’s report.

“One response we already have from the community is a strong desire to keep all eight schools in (District 101) running, including keeping the six elementary schools in the neighborhood,” Superintendent Lisa Hichens said Thursday.

Upcoming forums will talk about how to pay for construction and how to prioritize projects.

The district still owes about $40 million of money borrowed for past capital projects. He expects to pay that in five years.

Jennifer C. Burleigh