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Government

Glen Ellyn District 41 indecisive on community task force

GLEN ELLYN – The Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board of Education had trouble determining how to proceed with its Facilities Community Task Force during its meeting May 26.

Perhaps the most controversial issue among the board members is the potential hiring of an external facilitator to provide guidance to the task force, a group of community members that will address space issues in the district.

Considerations of the task force include how to create space to support full-day kindergarten, the removal of portables at Hadley Junior High School, relieving overcrowding at elementary schools, and addressing other space needs at all five district schools.

Two facilitators have presented options to the board: Unicom-Arc presented its plan for facilitating the task force May 11. Millennia Consulting presented May 26.

Both companies would cost about the same, according to Superintendent Paul Gordon, with a per-day rate of about $1,200.

Either company, if hired, would be in charge of involving a diverse group of stakeholders, guiding the group's decisions related to facilities, and enhancing trust between the district and community, according to district documents.

During public comment May 26, resident Jeff Cooper brought up issues with hiring an outside facilitator he said could cost the school about $50,000.

“Let's not waste $50,000 or more on such a firm,” Cooper said, referencing Unicom-Arc.

Cooper suggested an internal employee who already has experience in the district, such as Chief Communications Officer Erika Krehbiel, might be a better fit for the job.

“It would simplify and expedite all communications," he said. "I think she would comfortably deal with any participant.”

However, Krehbiel said having an outside facilitator could provide more objective guidance to the task force.

Also during the May 26 meeting, board members discussed full-day kindergarten as a game-changer in the district that could prove too significant a decision for community members to make without board approval.

Board members Kurt Buchholz and Stephanie Clark had problems with the board handing off the issue of full-day kindergarten to the community and said the board should make the decision and then involve the community on future steps.

“Do not dump the full-day kindergarten in their lap,” Buchholz said. "Make a decision, give them options as to how to do this, and then give it to the community."

Clark agreed the board should decide the fate of full-day kindergarten. She also suggested re-evaluating space issues at Churchill Elementary School to see if adding two more classrooms will diminish overcrowding. The board voted in Feburary to build four classrooms at the school to eliminate portable use.

“We should evaluate the Churchill plans for a second set of additions to see how much it would cost to add two more rooms there," Clark said.

Board member Joe Bochenski said it is important the board realize there are more issues the task force will have to address than full-day kindergarten, and that community involvement will help with a variety of challenges.

“There's more here than just full-day kindergarten,” Bochenski said. “I don't want that to get lost if you narrow it down to one issue.”

Board President Erica Nelson said ultimately lack of space is the main issue the district faces. She said space issues, including the possible addition of full-day kindergarten, should involve the input of the whole community.

Nelson said she would need to further discuss the matter with Gordon and evaluate how to proceed.

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