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Channahon school board assessing building needs

CHANNAHON – Members of the Channahon School District school board discussed – but took no action – Monday on the possibility of reducing the number of schools in the district from four to three.

The district’s enrollment has been steadily dropping for the past few years and is predicted to continue to fall for at least the next five years. The board already has reduced the number of kindergarten classes by one for the 2014-15 school year and is not replacing some of its retiring teachers.

“If we ever need to consider using this building [Pioneer Path] differently,” Superintendent Karin Evans said, “the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade building would be Three Rivers, and early childhood through third grade would be at Galloway.”

If a school is closed, board members said they would look at what modifications may be needed to accommodate the increase in students at the three remaining schools. The board also discussed renovating areas of N.B. Galloway and Three Rivers.

If students are moved out of Pioneer Path School, the building could be leased to another educational group, such as the area’s special education cooperative, which already has contracted to house its Communication Adaptive Behavior Program students at two Channahon schools.

No changes would need to be made at Channahon Junior High School, but gym space would need to be addressed at N.B. Galloway if an additional grade level is be added.

Galloway has one large room that serves as both a lunchroom and gym space, so physical education classes cannot be held for two hours mid-day while lunch is being served. That system would not work should additional students move into the building.

An architect was hired to show the board how the school could be adapted to make more room for physical education time. The two options presented were to build a separate gymnasium or to expand the cafeteria to a multi-purpose room/lunch room.

“We need additional space so we don’t have to double the P.E. classes like we do now,” Evans told the board. “Two hours out of every day now, our gym is a lunchroom. That cuts down on the functionality of the building.”

Building a new gym would cost an estimated $2.6 million, including washrooms, a storage area, and perhaps an office area.

Evans and several board members seemed to prefer the idea of the multi-purpose room/lunch room rather than a new gym. The room would be built off the kitchen and would have additional washrooms and a storage room. The tables would fold and roll into the storage room when the room is needed for other uses.

“It would easily fit two grade levels at a time for lunch, if we so choose,” Evans said, “and leave four to five hours to function with P.E.”

The multi-purpose room would cost an estimated $2.1 million. The board also looked at the possibility of bringing the school on to city sewer, as opposed to the septic system currently used.

Architectural plans also were viewed for remodeling three existing rooms at Three Rivers School to classrooms. The spaces, formerly industrial technology classrooms, are currently used for storage. It would cost about $600,000 to convert the rooms to classrooms, but the board asked for additional designs for smaller classrooms at a lower cost.

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