Elmhurst District 205 staff provide update on facility plan communications

Melea Smith, executive director of communications and public relations for Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205, presents an update on the community advisory team and communications related to the Master Facilities Plan at the April 10 Board of Education meeting.[]

ELMHURST – Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 has needed to delay some of its communication plans related to the proposed Master Facilities Plan, as announced at the April 10 Board of Education meeting.

The Master Facilities Plan, which involves all schools in the district, could cost $97.8 million to $158.8 million, depending on which projects are selected among the variety of repairs, building security improvements and future-ready additions, such as media centers and collaboration spaces. To do just maintenance projects across the district would cost about $26.1 million.

Superintendent David Moyer said the district's Community Advisory Team, whose members were selected through an application process with the purpose of helping the district explain the plan to residents and stakeholders, had an initial meeting March 19. Members of the team reiterated the importance of school boundaries and presenting the information of facility concepts and costs in a simple, easy-to-understand way, Moyer said.

Focus groups, another portion of the communication plans, were scheduled to begin April 11 in a series that would include Field Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School and Edison Elementary School.

However, the district has put a hold on the focus groups because it wanted to receive the boundary study information first, said Melea Smith, the district's executive director of communications and public relations.

Smith said there are scheduling difficulties because of activities at the end of the school year. The focus groups could be picked back up in June.

Board member Christopher Blum expressed concerns with not using focus groups, saying the district genuinely wants to gather community feedback and avoid a failed referendum.

"I think we all want a plan that is widely embraced," Blum said. "The goal isn't to get it done. The goal is to get it executed."

Dates for community meetings – another part of the communication plans – will be published in a report that should be mailed to the entire community within a few weeks, Smith said.

The first community meeting will likely be May 12. The school board is expected to receive a draft of the community presentation May 8, she said.

Targeted mini-surveys to Field Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School and Edison Elementary School with ThoughtExchange also might be used, Smith said.