is considering the purchase of land at Essington Road and Glenwood Avenue as the future site of a two-school campus for fifth- through eighth-grade students.
The district will present its concept to the 's land use committee Thursday to determine if the city would give its blessing to such a plan, something district officials want in advance of entering into negotiations to buy the site, District 30C Supt. Don White said Wednesday.
The sprawling school district of 4,600 students covers portions of , and Crest Hill and encompasses a large swath of Joliet from about Houbolt Road west to the Joliet Junction Trail, near where Joyce Road intersects with Jefferson Street. The site under consideration is currently farm property.
White said they found the spot when they began looking for 50-acre parcels within the district on which two schools -- one for fifth- and sixth-graders and the other for seventh- and eighth-graders -- could be built.
When the new buildings might be needed is predicated entirely upon when the construction of new housing resumes, he said. There are large subdivisions in the district that have been platted but not built; district officials want to be prepared for the new students that will come with that development in order to avoid overcrowding existing schools.
White stressed, however, that nothing can be built without voter approval. While the school board might be able to authorize the purchase of land, it cannot unilaterally construct new buildings without putting a referendum on the election ballot, he said.
Essington Road is a major north-south corridor for Joliet, but At-Large Joliet City Councilman Don Fisher, who chairs the land use committee, sees a school campus as a potentially ideal use given its proximity to residential neighborhoods.
"I'm pretty sure there's not a need for more residential; we have an abundance of (unbuilt) residential," Fisher said.
And there's no shortage of commercial property given the marketable properties along Jefferson Street, Route 59, Plainfield Road and elsewhere in the city, he said.
What's appealing about the school concept is it's a low-intensity use that keeps a lot open green space and will include possible amenities that would be open to the public when school is not in session, Fisher said.
White said the plan would also include some neighborhood park land so that a plot of fully mature trees will not have to be removed.