WINNETKA – The Village Council approved the installation of temporary classrooms on the Crow Island School grounds at a meeting on April 19. The school district plans to install one, possibly two, modular units in the southwest corner of the Crow Island campus.
The school district sought approval of the temporary classrooms due to an usually large first grade, which has put the squeeze on the popular elementary school. The district has committed to class sizes of no more than 20-21 students.
An 805-foot modular unit will be installed over the summer of 2016 and will include two classrooms that will house music and Spanish classes. The additional space will free up two classrooms in the school building, alleviating space constraints.
A second unit also containing two classrooms could potentially be installed in the summer of 2017, but that is dependent on whether the district approves extended day kindergarten this spring. Kindergarten classes would not be housed in the temporary classrooms.
This issue was before the Winnetka Design Review Board in February and at that time it was continued so the district could provide more detailed landscaping plans. Neighbors expressed concern that the modular classrooms were not adequately screened from nearby homes. The district hired a landscape architect and submitted a revised landscaping plan in March, which included maintaining the existing berms and plantings, as well as adding new plantings along the Mount Pleasant and Glendale frontages. The DRB voted unanimously to approve the plan.
At the Village Council meeting, Trustee Bill Krucks asked whether the neighbors found the new landscaping plan acceptable. Michael D’Onofrio, director of community development for the village, said there had been no additional concerns raised by the neighbors. Gregory Kurr, CFO for District 36, said numerous meetings were held with the neighbors, and that the neighbors were pleased with the new landscaping plans.
Trustee McCrary asked whether the modular units could potentially become permanent, or whether the school could add on to the building. D’Onofrio noted that the district intended only to used the modular units for four years at the most and that the zoning laws permitted an addition of the same size.
While the school district intends to temporarily use the units, Trustee William Krucks noted that it could be seen as unsightly for the village. “It could be seen as somewhat of an embarrassment to have modular classrooms in Winnetka,” he said.
But the other council members disagreed. “I don’t agree with that,” Trustee McCrory said. “We’ve had temporary classrooms at Greeley and Hubbard Woods. We have them at the high school due to construction. I don’t think we should attach a stigma to it,” he said. Trustee Carol Fessler noted that temporary classrooms showed that the district was being good stewards of its funds.
Trustee Marilyn Prodromos noted her support of the classrooms. “They’ve been extremely sensitive to the neighbors and I think it is good for the children,” she said.
The Village Council voted unanimously to waive introduction and approve the temporary classrooms.