West Aurora School District 129 today announced its proposed new West Aurora School District Campus — a 15-acre site near the intersection of Galena Boulevard and Edgelawn Avenue on Aurora’s West Side.
The campus will be home to the district’s new Early Childhood Development Center, the new Weisner Family Career and Technical Education Center and the new district headquarters.
West Aurora Superintendent Dr. Jeff Craig made the announcement Tuesday at the proposed site of the new district headquarters.
“About 14 months ago, we embarked on a Capital Needs Referendum. Our community staunchly supported that effort by allowing us to respond to our learning environment needs with $84.2 million in resources,” Craig said. “One of the identified needs was to provide an opportunity to bookend our core offerings in the form of Early Childhood learning and Post-Secondary training.”
Early Childhood Development Center
As part of its ongoing commitment to the Aurora community, Advocate Health Care is in part donating what is now the Dreyer Medical Clinic building at 1870 W. Galena Boulevard to house the district’s new Early Childhood Development Center.
Advocate’s partial donation of the clinic will allow West Aurora Schools to purchase the facility for just $600,000. More than 1,000 students and their families will benefit from the center that will replace the Todd Early Childhood Center, a facility not conducive to efficient early childhood education as highlighted during the referendum campaign.
“Advocate Dreyer has been an important part of the Aurora community for nearly 100 years and we are so pleased to build on our partnership and donate our building for such a worthy cause,” said Donna Cooper, president of Dreyer Medical Clinic and CEO of Advocate Medical Group. “Our physicians and associates continue to remain deeply invested in ensuring the health and wellness of the community we are so proud to serve.”
Next spring, Advocate will begin the transition process to its new two-story, 75,000-square-foot facility at 2285 Sequoia Drive in the northwest corner of Aurora. This new clinic represents a $30 million investment in the Aurora community. After another year of renovations, the new Early Childhood Development Center is expected to open for the 2018-19 school year.
New District Headquarters
To secure the entire footprint of the campus, the West Aurora Board of Education approved the purchase of the building immediately south of the clinic at 1877 W. Downer Place to house the district’s central administration. The current administration building located at 80 S. River Street is 92 years old, antiquated and is in need of repairs that would total $800,000. The move will place the district’s headquarters in a more accessible and centrally located area.
“This facility will enable more interaction with district administration and staff, students and parents,” said Craig. “We are being more cost efficient by transitioning into existing facilities as opposed to building brand new or investing in our current aging infrastructure.”
Moving from its downtown Aurora location, the district expects to be fully operational in its new headquarters by the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Assisting with the process, the city of Aurora will provide a $150,000 tax rebate to Advocate Dreyer, offsetting part of West Aurora Schools’ purchase of its new property. In exchange, the city will secure the current River Street administration building located at an integral intersection in Aurora’s downtown, and will work to put it back on the tax rolls by securing similar redevelopment opportunities as it has recently done with the nearby former Elks building and former St. Charles Hospital building.
“This is a win-win-win for all involved because we know all too well the difficulties of repurposing medical buildings and special-use facilities like the current District 129 headquarters,” said Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner. “As a major employer, District 129 will provide immediate economic stability to the West Galena corridor, as the city works to put the current building back on the tax rolls. We are here today because District 129 parents and taxpayers chose to invest in Aurora’s most important resource — our children.”
Weisner Family Career and Technical Education Center
The third part of West Aurora’s announcement today was the construction of a new technical training center on the campus. Craig made the surprise announcement that the new training center would be named “The Weisner Family Career and Technical Education Center” in honor of Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and First Lady Marilyn Weisner and their dedication to the Aurora community.
The Weisner Family Career and Technical Education Center will provide educational and training opportunities for students wanting to pursue dual credit classes, job-ready training and career certifications as a part of the Pathways to Prosperity initiative. The three career pathways that are part of the initiative are in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, and Health Occupations services, a particular interest to Advocate Health Care.
This component is a result of many years of research and planning on the citywide Pathways to Prosperity initiative. Presently, West Aurora students are traveling nearly two hours each day to a training center 19 miles away in Maple Park. Groundbreaking for the tech center on the southwest corner of the new campus could happen as early as next summer.
“This is a 15-acre campus that will house a wide variety of our offerings and services for our students, staff and community,” Craig said. “The unique partnership demonstrates how high quality education offerings affect economic development and quality of life in the community. Most certainly, this investment from the District, the City of Aurora and Advocate Health will benefit West Aurora School District for generations to come.”
Complete plans for the proposed West Aurora School District Campus are available at www.sd129.org.
SOURCE: City of Aurora news release