Icons For Sale: Which Will School District 304 Sell—Coultrap or Fourth Street?
The Coultrap and Fourth Street properties are being held back as the Board of Education debates their future.
Editor's note: This is the eighth of a multipart summer series by Tara Knott and Garrett Lance looking at the iconic Geneva buildings for sale or facing future moves, and what those moves mean for Geneva's long-term development. See the series intro here.
The "Back to School" displays at Target and Wal-Mart already are swarming with students on the hunt for the perfect Glee-themed notebook and confused moms trying to figure out exactly what O-Glue is.
But the district's massive growth has left two of its historic schools in the dust—namely Fourth Street and Coultrap elementary schools.
The schools were built in 1916 and 1923 respectively, making them two the oldest school buildings still standing in Geneva after East Side School, which was built in 1900 and has been converted into Malone Funeral Home.
No permanent plans have been announced yet for either of the properties. In the meantime, Fourth Street, which closed in 1994, is the district's administrative home, and the Board of Education meets at Coultrap, which closed in 2008 when Williamsburg Elementary opened.
However, these forgotten icons may soon have new life breathed into them. Board of Education president Tim Moran said a Superintendent's Facilities Task Force was recently organized, and "Fourth Street and Coultrap are primary items for consideration."
Moran said he, School Board Vice President, Mark Grosso and District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler are three of the members on the task force, and they'll be working alongside other district administrators.
The team plans to recommend a proposal to the full board this school year, Mutchler added.
If other school districts in the area are any indication, it may take some time before any plans are finalized. On June 30, Wheaton Patch reported that after more than a decade of debate, District 200 finally sold its Hubble Middle School property to an equity firm for roughly $5 million.
In the meantime, Geneva's board members must keep real estate issues confidential until they've been discussed in open session, so Moran and Mutchler both declined to speculate about possible values or uses for the properties.
When Mutchler became superintendent in 2006, he told The Beacon-News he hoped to connect Coultrap with Geneva Community High School within the next five years. At the time, he said the elementary school's historical front would remain untouched, but the wings of the building would likely be removed in the course of the project.
But those five years have passed, and Mutchler said things have changed.
"The board is reviewing this (plan for Coultrap) as part of reviewing the facility master plan," Mutchler said. "The task force will be taking a look at this again."
What they'll decide when they do, though, is still up in the air. For the time being, the Coultrap and Fourth Street properties will herald the beginning of yet another school year with no children running through the halls.