ELBURN – The Creative Beginnings Early Education preschool has passed one hurdle in its request for a permit to allow it to move into the Prairie Valley commercial subdivision from its location in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center.
Kristina Williams, owner and operator of the preschool for the past four years, requested a special use permit from the Elburn Planning Commission at its Jan. 2 meeting because the zoning for Prairie Valley is mixed use. The commission voted unanimously, with the exception of absent member Chris Gould, to approve her request, which will now go to the Village Board.
“I commend you for doing this,” planning commission president Jeff Metcalf said. “Not only will you eliminate a vacant spot, you will enhance it. There’s a huge need for it here in Elburn.”
Williams opened the school with a roster of 22 students. She said the preschool offers two classes in the morning and two in the afternoon, with a current enrollment of 60 students, as well as a 30-student waiting list.
Williams said the main reason for the move is that in order to expand the school there are a few changes she would need to make to meet Department of Child and Family Services regulations that she would not be able to accomplish at the Community Center. She is certified through DCFS.
Her current space is 700 square feet for the classrooms and 300 square feet for her office. The space in the Prairie Valley subdivision, units A and B at 108 Valley Drive, is more than twice that size, with 2,300 square feet for two classrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen, something she currently does not have at the Community Center.
She said that with the addition of a kitchen, she would be able to provide more in the way of snacks for the children, and the space at Prairie Valley would offer a more modern environment for the school.
Village staff initially had some concerns about locating the preschool in the subdivision, including safety issues involved in dropping off and picking up children within a commercial retail center, adequate available parking and the lack of an outdoor play area.
Williams said that she does not come out to bring the children into the school; they are escorted by their parents in and out of the school from their parked cars. She said that the length of time any car is parked averages only about seven or eight minutes, and that is because the starting times of the two morning and two afternoon classes are staggered by 15 minutes, the 14-plus parking spaces nearby should be adequate for their needs.
Williams said that because her classes last for only half the day, DCFS regulations do not require her to have a large playground. She said she plans to fence in a 600-square-foot grassy play area between the building and the sidewalk for the children.
She said she is looking to stay in Elburn for the long term.
“I want to stay a part of the community,” she said.
The Village Board will consider her request at its Jan. 22 board meeting at 6:45 p.m. at Village Hall.