While Brook Park Elementary School’s modular classroom building project has been approved to begin this summer, District 95 continues to discuss the possibility of the district needing to undergo yet another building improvement project.
At the district’s committee of the whole meeting on April 30, the board of education revisited the idea of constructing a new school building at Madlin Park in Brookfield to serve as a new location for students in kindergarten through second grade.
Despite the mobile classroom building ready to go up at Brook Park this summer, the board says enrollment trends and future predictions may mean that — even with the new modular unit at Brook Park — instructional space may be limited and the school too crowded to provide adequate learning conditions.
As the Landmark reported back in November, Brook Park’s current enrollment of 756 students makes the school one of the largest elementary schools in the state. If the building reaches 1,000 students, which Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski predicts will eventually happen in the next few years, it would be the largest elementary school in the state.
Kuzniewski says that is just not acceptable.
“The board must decide philosophically to move forward or not,” Kuzniewski said.
The district could look to construct a building that would be 30,000 to 36,000 square feet. Such a building would come with a price tag between $15 million and $20 million.
Kuzniewski says that the biggest challenge that the board faces is with the village of Brookfield, which owns half of Madlin Park (District 95 owns the other half). Constructing such a building would take away village green space.
Madlin Park is located just west of S.E. Gross Middle School at the intersection of Madison and Lincoln avenues. It is used by the school district for athletic events.
“We’ve explored every free space to do a K-2 center,” he said.
Kuzniewski said the district’s architect, Steve Cashman, has drawn up four potential site plans for the Madlin Park, with buildings comprising 30,000 to 36,000 square feet of instructional space.
“We could put a building that would allow for kindergarten through grade two to have six sections of each grade,” Kuzniewski said. “You would have six kindergarten rooms, six first grade rooms and six second grade rooms. The space also includes a decent size multipurpose room, a media center and a pretty small office suite for a nurse, psychologist and principal.”
Regarding the retention of recreational space for children, Kuzniewski said that some models have a small playground space and some do not. Additionally, all four designs include a partial basement level. Kuzniewski said staff could park at S.E. Gross Middle School near the track.
Board member John LaBarbera thinks that the idea of building a school at Madlin Park is worth exploring but, he added, the board should seek additional input from district parents and Brookfield residents in order to avoid the kind of controversy and eventual failure Riverside-Brookfield High School experienced with respect to its plan to build a parking lot.
“We could go to the community on a referendum and have them weigh in through that process,” LaBarbera said. “It would at least give us a direction as to what the community thinks. This is a very complex series of very precise activities.”
However, not everyone on the board agrees that the Madlin Park project would be a good one. Board member Brian Conroy said he is against the idea, because park spaces in Brookfield are already scarce. Conroy believes village green spaces for children to play are educational and should not be sacrificed for a new building.
“I myself am an advocate of developing the Brook Park site, [but] the amount of people sharing our small park spaces is incredible,” Conroy said, referencing his recent observation of children sharing existing green space in Brookfield for multiple sports activities.
In the coming weeks, Kuzniewski said he plans on holding a meeting with the village of Brookfield in order to further explore building on Madlin Park and any other options the school district might explore.