No takers yet for space SD 159 wants to lease
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent August 17, 2012 6:30PM
Updated: September 20, 2012 10:02AM
The chances of Mokena School District 159 collecting any revenue this year from leasing empty classrooms at its elementary school have dwindled with a breakdown in negotiations with the Mokena Park District.
The District 159 board had considered closing and leasing its intermediate school to save money, then decided to keep it open and lease unused space at Mokena Elementary School instead.
Park district executive director Jim Romanek said the district was interested in space at MES for its pre-kindergarten program but that the asking price was too high.
“We were really counting on the park district, and I was very disappointed we couldn’t get that done,” school board member Mike Ford said.
Romanek said the park district has “never had to give money between taxing bodies. It’s always been an exchange of services.”
He cited an agreement that allows the park to use school gymnasiums and the track at Mokena Junior High in exchange for maintaining the areas.
Ford said the board was unprepared for the park district’s withdrawal from the negotiations — the second time talks fell off — but that is willing to resume negotiations while also looking at other options.
He said the River of Life Ministry Center is interested and Lincoln-Way Area Special Education District 843 has “always been on the table.”
He said closing a school is not as urgently needed as it had been but it is “always going to be on our radar if (enrollment) continues to decline.”
The possibility of leasing space at MES was one of the selling points when the decision to keep MIS open was made.
Ford said he believed it would work to everyone’s benefit if the park district were to lease space for a preschool program at MES.
“The synergy would be great,” Ford said.