DeKALB – The Chesebro Elementary building, which has been closed and used for storage by DeKalb School District 428 since 2011, might again be used to teach if a proposed lease by a local education provider goes through.
Austin-based Camelot Education, which has provided educational and behavior services to at-risk students for more than 30 years, reached out to the district at the beginning of the school year to lease the building, since its current lease for a facility on Oak Street in DeKalb is set to expire in 2018.
After touring the building, the company submitted a request to lease the building for a minimum of 10 years to start a therapeutic day school program. Tammy Carson, director of facility operations at District 428, provided an update of negotiations during Wednesday’s Finance Facilities Advisory Committee meeting.
According to Camelot’s website, therapeutic day school programs provide individualized attention and a curriculum that is based on each student’s cognitive ability, learning style and interest.
“The goal for students who attend Camelot’s therapeutic programs is for them to make progress on their individual goals and objectives as stated in their Individual Education Plan, so they may reintegrate to a less restrictive environment as soon as possible,” the website read.
To accomplish this, Camelot’s plan is to renovate the building to fit the needs of its programs at its own cost. Discussed renovations include handicap accessibility; new flooring; new walls; new paint; heating, ventilation and air conditioning work; electrical work; new lighting; extending the parking lot and restriping; a playground; and landscaping.
Camelot’s goal is to occupy the building by the summer and start construction this spring so long as a lease is approved. Once complete, Carson said Camelot would be responsible for interior work, but services such as snowplowing, mowing, roofing and major HVAC work would be handled by the district.
Factoring in the utilities savings and the cost to renovate an alternative space, Carson estimated that the net revenue from the lease would exceed $2 million over the 10-year agreement.
Carson added that the district has found a new storage space that would be significantly smaller, but it should be accommodating since Chesebro provides more than enough space for supplies.
Cindy Carpenter, District 428 director of business and finance, said both parties still are working on an agreement. She added that a lease agreement with Camelot and a lease agreement for another storage facility likely would be taken up at the same meeting.
Also discussed during the FFAC meeting were the bid results of a plan to install a new boiler system and chiller at Lincoln Elementary School, the only school in the district without an air conditioning system.
In September, classes were canceled two straight days at the school because of temperatures in some classrooms reaching 105 degrees, according to some teachers. A few days after these cancellations, a total of 64 students were absent from school.
Before the boiler system can be replaced, a separate contractor must perform asbestos abatement.
The lowest bid for the boiler and chiller work came in at about $1.15 million, about $18,000 less than what last year’s bid for the project was. Asbestos work came in at about $31,000, about $3,000 less than last year.
If the school board approves the contractor, a majority of the project costs will be funded through the district’s life and safety budget, and the remaining balance will be covered by the operations and maintenance budget.
The matter is expected to be taken before the school board for a vote during its next meeting Tuesday.
If approved, Carson said asbestos abatement would take place over spring break, and the boiler work is targeted at the end of the school year.
The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the District 428 Education Center, 901 S. Fourth St., DeKalb.