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New members Jen Hubbard and Caty Husbands were sworn in to the Englewood Schools Board of Education on Nov. 28 at its first work-session meeting following the Nov. 7 elections. The board then approved more construction money for the new Maddox Early Childhood Education preschool building.
The swearing-in ceremony was officiated by Angela Schmitz, an Englewood associate municipal judge, making Hubbard's and Husbands' terms official, along with school-board president Tena Prange, who won her re-election race. The board also bid farewell to outgoing members Jason Sakry and Dagan Thomas.
The first order of business for the new board lineup, after it voted for its officer positions, was to approve additional spending for the new preschool building at 700 W. Mansfield Ave., which is expected to open for students in January 2019. Groundbreaking for the project was set for Dec. 6., and work will continue through December 2018.
The new building will be “entirely focused on these little guys and what they need,” representatives from RB+B Architects said in their presentation to the board. It features high ceilings and a lot of daylight, but perhaps the biggest standouts in the plan are the indoor playground spaces.
Those multipurpose spaces, as they're called, will have jungle gym-style playground equipment, a tricycle track and carpeted floors.
“It's a joyful building,” said Patty Hanrahan, deputy superintendent, during the meeting. Chatter ensued around the board table about the possibility of the new building boosting enrollment numbers and attracting more young families to the district.
Two of the multipurpose spaces will sit on wings on either side of the center area, the “adult core” of the school, presenters said. Classrooms will surround the indoor playgrounds in both wings. Outside, four playground areas will circle the perimeter of the school, the shape of which RB+B said was inspired by dragonflies. They'll have two styles: a more “traditional” type with swings and slides, and a more natural type that allows kids to explore their environment, climb and have grassy hills to roll down, RB+B said.
The design includes a large community room, dividable into two parts, that can house professional development activities — essentially training for faculty and staff to improve their skills — and a space for the board of education to meet in.
Aside from discussing the building's design plan, the board decided whether to approve a $500,000 increase in spending for the project. Because of technical financial reasons, it was better for that money to come out of the school district's bond premium rather than the current project budget, said Michelle Albert, a senior project manager for CBRE Group real estate, during the meeting.
Englewood voters approved the $97.5 million bond in 2016, and Superintendent Wendy Rubin explained in the meeting that the district also received an additional $13 million premium as a result of selling the bond. A bond is the issuance of a debt to investors that the district eventually will pay back with interest.
Because of the premium, the district has essentially $110.5 million to spend, and approving the $500,000 would be releasing access to that much of the premium, Rubin said. Hanrahan compared it to “going into the savings account.”
The money would pay for additional space for administrative needs and district-wide professional-development needs, and would address increased standards for technology and security for the district, the presentation said.
The board unanimously approved the spending.
Near the top of the meeting, the board also re-elected Tena Prange to be president of the board and chose Kevin Ebert to be first vice president, Hubbard to be second vice president, Husbands to be secretary and Sharon Scheminske to be treasurer.
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