BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – Marklund at Mill Creek, a residential facility for adults with profound developmental disabilities, is looking to build a 24,000-square-foot day school on its campus, Marklund CEO Gil Fonger said.
The school could potentially accommodate 66 students, from age 3 through 21, Fonger said.
The nonprofit agency just started a capital campaign in September to raise $9 million to build the school, and have it open by the fall of 2020, Fonger said.
“We are really in the preliminary stages of creating a school on our campus,” Fonger said. “We have schools in Bloomingdale and Elgin. These schools are all for children with multi-needs and on the autism spectrum...This would be a school for multi-needs and the autism spectrum.”
The two schools together serve 69 students, Fonger said.
Marklund opened in 2002 in the Mill Creek subdivision in Blackberry Township near Geneva as a residential facility for adults. Clients reside in six 16-bed homes on the 25-acre Marklund Hyde Center campus.
“In the greater Geneva area, there are only two providers that serve students with developmental disabilities,” Fonger said. “They are a very much underserved area. This [school] is going to meet a huge need. … We feel this school in Geneva is greatly needed.”
The capital campaign has received its first major cash donation of $1 million from the Foglia Family Foundation, Fonger said.
“You don’t build a $9-million-dollar school with bake sales,” Fonger said.
Marklund officials have not filed any plans yet with Kane County development and zoning offices, Fonger said.
“We just started discussions with staff to get their input on it,” Fonger said. “We will be talking to neighbors and getting their input on it. We want to make sure they understand what we are doing and inform them. … I want to make sure our neighbors know we are going to be talking to them about this development and be there to answer their questions and fears about it. The opportunity it is going to bring to the greater Geneva area is going to be tremendous.”
A day school like this will have a positive impact on families that take care of members with development disabilities, Fonger said.
“People who are not impacted by a child with developmental disabilities – it’s hard to understand how impactful it is and what a school like this could bring to students and this family,” Fonger said.
Parking for the school will all be on Marklund’s property, he said.
Traffic will not impact the subdivision, Fonger said, as the facility is at the corner of Wyatt Drive and Main Street, so vehicles – such as small buses, vans or taxis – will not even have to go into the subdivision.
School hours would be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., he said.
County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn said he hoped the community would embrace Marklund’s plans for a day school.
“There is a great relationship between the community and the facility for many, many years now,” Frasz said. “In 10 years, I’ve never gotten one complaint or negative comment about Marklund.”