St. Mary School announces expansion plans

SYCAMORE – At St. Mary Catholic School in Sycamore, the growing enrollment in recent years has produced a growing problem – space.

“We’re a growing parish, and certainly as people move into town, a lot of them are Catholic or looking for a Catholic education, and we have space issues,” Principal Ross Bubolz said.

Those issues should be alleviated by construction of a 16,700-square-foot expansion called the Faith Formation Center. On Dec. 5, the parish announced site work for the expansion is expected to begin in March 2013, with construction to begin in June. Phase 1 of the expansion should be complete before the beginning of the fall 2014 semester, Bubolz said.

“We’re really excited about the possibilities,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the day we have the space we need.”

The school has 245 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, Bubolz said. The school’s main building, on Waterman Street, ran out of space to house all of the students years ago, and the preschool, seventh and eighth grades were moved into the Murphy Building at the corner of Somonauk and Edward streets. The computer lab and St. Mary’s religious education classes also are located in the Murphy Building, which is owned by Kindred Hospital.

While the building is just across the street from the main campus, the goal was always to get all classes back on one campus, Bubolz said.

The expansion, named the Faith Formation Center, will be directly east of the main school building, he said. The front office will move closer to the street, and three classrooms will be added. The addition also will house meeting rooms and offices to be used by the school and the parish.

In the second phase of the project, a second story with four to five additional classrooms will be added to the new construction, Bubolz said. Phase 2 will include a new gym and cafeteria. Bubolz said no timeline has been set for the second phase.

Five years ago, the parish began a Legacy Campaign to fund a facility expansion. The goal was to raise $2,273,000. About $350,000 still is needed.

The parish’s long-range planning committee has been working on expansion plans for the past seven to eight years, Bubolz said. The school is essentially “landlocked” in an older neighborhood without much vacant space for expansion, so the committee worked with architects and the city to develop plans.

“It’s really quite remarkable what they’ve done considering the limited space we have,” he said. “They have made sure all the parish’s needs are addressed and included.”

Construction should not have any impact on classes, he said.

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