DeKalb School District 428 board mulling plan to acquire Charter Street property – Shaw Local


DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 may have found a new home for its transition program at 530 Charter St., DeKalb.

The school board is expected to give the property’s lease purchase agreement consideration during its Feb. 20 meeting.

“We searched many properties, and we found one,” said Armir Doka, the district’s director of business and finance.

The school board had authorized the district’s administration to begin a search for property in October 2023.

The transition program is dedicated to serving students with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 18-22 and has been based at the high school for several years.

When the district was part of the DeKalb County Special Education Association Cooperative (DCSEA) years ago, its special education programming convened in a residential house along Ellwood Avenue in DeKalb that was used by the county’s districts, school board documents show. It provided a space for students to practice their adult daily living skills working toward independence.

It wasn’t until during the 2008-09 school year, however, that the DCSEA dissolved and a decision was made to relocate the transition program to DeKalb High School, school board documents show.

Doka said the property at 530 Charter St. is close in proximity to Huntley Middle School.

The district intends to enter into a lease purchase agreement to obtain the right to occupy the space for $3,850 per month, according to school board documents.

The district also has the option to purchase the property at the expiration of the 24-month term of the contract set forth by state law without holding a referendum so long as the purchase price of $315,000 and any closing costs are paid, according to school board documents.

Doka said there are advantages to moving forward with this property using a lease purchase agreement.

“It is structured in that way to give us the flexibility to renovate the building,” Doka said.

Doka added that renovations to the building are expected not to exceed $1.5 million, which includes the acquisition price and estimated remodeling costs.

The district is now awaiting approval from the city on whether it will back its zoning and permit requests for the property.

Also at the meeting, the board was briefed on how a roughly $1 million request to go out to bid for construction of the transition program’s new building is needed.

Tammy Carson, the district’s director of facility and safety operations, said that amount includes architect and engineering fees, contingency and building acquisition costs.

The school board is expected to put both the construction bid request and lease purchase agreement to vote during its Feb. 20 meeting.

Carson said board approval is hoped to keep the project on pace so that the building can be open to students as early as January 2025.

This story was updated at 10:41 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2024, to correct an earlier version that should have said the contract includes an option for the district to purchase the property upon the expiration of the terms of a 24-month lease.


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