Why $380M won’t be enough to complete all of U-46’s construction work


As Elgin Area School District U-46 breaks ground on construction to convert Hawk Hollow Elementary into a middle school, district officials are working to identify an elementary school in Elgin and another in Streamwood to replace with new buildings.

The ceremonial start of the $58 million Hawk Hollow project happened Thursday. The new middle school will serve 750 students when it opens in 2025 after the 92,000-square-foot addition is completed.

The plan for the building aligns with the district’s vision of including sixth grade in its eight middle schools. The Hawk Hollow project also marks the starting line for up to $380 million in construction work envisioned for the district over the next several years.

District officials Thursday also confirmed they have an agreement to buy property off Rohrssen adjacent to Hilltop Elementary School in Elgin. The district is in its due diligence phase and has not yet set a closing date for the property. However, officials expect to build a new middle school on the property, U-46 Chief of Staff Brian Lindholm said.

Earlier this week, Lindholm told members of the district’s finance committee the middle school conversions will cost more than the original $200 million forecast and that the district may fall short on the work it once envisioned for its $380 million building program.

“We will likely need to be more selective in determining which elementary schools will be renovated or rebuilt,” Lindholm said.

The staff has targeted eight elementary schools for either closure or major construction: Century Oaks, Glenbrook, Hanover Countryside, Illinois Park, Lowrie, McKinley, Parkwood and Washington. Some of those buildings date back to the late 1800s.



“Given that many of our elementary schools are under-enrolled and will be even more so once we transition to sixth grade in our middle schools, we will need to carefully consider consolidating some of our schools to operate more efficiently,” Lindholm said.

He shared a preliminary list of priorities for the elementary schools, but a detailed plan will be unveiled Dec. 18.

The basic outline calls for replacing an Elgin elementary school with a new $50 million school. The current Elgin-based elementary schools under consideration are Century Oaks, Illinois Park, Lowrie, McKinley and Washington.

It further calls for replacing a Streamwood elementary school with a new $50 million school. The current Streamwood-based elementary schools being considered are Hanover Countryside and Glenbrook. The eighth school under consideration is Parkwood in Hanover Park.

“Any students impacted by the changes will move to improved and more modern learning environments,” Lindholm said.

Consolidation of elementary schools with comparatively low enrollment also is under consideration. The district’s student population is down 13% from the 2015-16 school year, plummeting by 625 students on average every year since. That decline is concentrated in the elementary and middle schools.

Lindholm Thursday also noted the district could not reach an agreement to purchase a portion of the former Sherman Hospital in Elgin. District officials were eying that site as a potential location to build a new school to replace McKinley Elementary.

Daily Herald staff writer Alice Fabbre contributed to this report.


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