Brookfield-LaGrange School District 95 will not seek approval from the village of LaGrange Park before installing mobile classrooms at Brook Park School during the summer.
LaGrange Park village officials had asked the school district to go through the village’s normal site plan review process, but the District 95 school board and administration believe that, as an independent governmental unit, the school district does not need to do that.
School officials do not want to set a precedent that it needs village approval for work on its own property.
“Because we have responsibilities as a school district and as board members, we have fiduciary responsibilities, and ceding those responsibilities to another entity without just cause would cause problems,” said board member John LaBarbera. “It’s not that we don’t like LaGrange Park or the committees of LaGrange Park. We’re certainly going to make our building as attractive as possible, but in my mind it’s really a very important question. It does not mean we’re not sensitive to the needs of LaGrange Park.”
District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski said the district has already has its plans approved by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) and has shared those plans and approvals with LaGrange Park village officials. The district needed the approval of the MWRD, because the mobile classrooms will be places in area currently used to detain storm water runoff.
LaGrange Park officials asked the district to go through its site plan approval process, where a committee of appointed officials would review and approve its plans. But Kuzniewski told the school board he did not feel that was necessary, and he was concerned that it would create a bad precedent.
Kuzniewski noted that the district is not seeking a zoning variance and its plans will be approved by a state agency, the West 40 Intermediate Service Center, a regional arm of the Illinois State Board of Education. West 40 will inspect the mobile classrooms and issue an occupancy permit before students set foot in them.
The district will spend about $125,000 to $150,000 in site preparation and utility work this spring to make the green area northeast of the school ready for the mobile classrooms. Since the mobile classrooms will be installed on an area now used for storm water detention, steps will be taken to ensure that adequate drainage can still take place.
The mobile classrooms, which will be housed in one large modular unit, will be placed on as many as 56 pylons and be raised about 30 inches off the ground to provide for air flow to aid drainage. Rocks and mesh will be placed on the ground to also promote drainage.
“We will have one modular unit that contains six classrooms,” Kuzniewski said.
The mobile classroom unit will feature restrooms, and each classroom will have individual temperature controls. Modern mobile classrooms do not look like the trailers of old, Kuzniewski said.
The mobile classrooms will be more up-to-date than some existing classrooms at Brook Park, Kuzniewski said.
It is likely that all of Brook Park’s fifth-graders will be in the mobile classrooms next year, since students will have to go into the school for lunch as well as for classes such as art and gym.
“The most likely scenario is that it will be fifth grade that will move out there,” Kuzniewski said. “We want our oldest students making that transition in and out.”
The district will lease the classroom unit at a cost of approximately $60,000 a year Kuzniewski said. The district has not yet solicited bids for the mobile classrooms, but two companies dominate the market.
The mobile classrooms will be delivered this summer. They are designed to be a temporary fix for increased enrollment as the district seeks to find a long-term solution that could involve building a new building, possibly in Madlin Park in Brookfield, or adding on to its existing two schools.