A new private STEM school for elementary and middle school students featuring curriculum drawn from the University of Chicago STEM Education is part of a 12-acre development at Diehl Road and Mill Street that could be annexed into Naperville.
Naperville residents Selvei and Kumar Rajkumar, operating as Vruthhi, presented their plans Wednesday to the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended the Naperville City Council approve annexation and rezoning for the 5-acre Oriion STEM School site.
Commissioners also endorsed the conditional use needed for the adjacent 7-acre Prosperita 76-unit town home development, owners of which are also seeking a variance for an off-premise sign that will advertise both the school and town house development.
The proposed two-story, 44,000-square-foot school will house 360 kindergarten through eighth-grade students and 40 educators and staff.
It will be overseen by Selvei Rajkumar, who founded the KLA preschools located in the Naperville area.
Rajkuman said she wants to bridge STEM education with an entrepreneurial mindset to assist students who may want to be self-employed or pursue jobs that don’t exist yet.
To achieve that goal, she said the school is partnering with the University of Chicago STEM Education team and A Leader in Me to design the school and develop the curriculum to meet high standards.
Inside the school will be a planetarium, rainforest, tinker, virtual reality and music labs, art workshop, drama and performance area, gymnasium and collaborative pods, she said.
Outdoor amenities will include an amphitheater, hard surface areas for recreational activities, a greenhouse and gardens, and areas for yoga, brainstorming and music.
The plan is to stagger school hours by grade level to control traffic when parents are dropping off and picking up their children. Before- and after-school learning also will be available.
Attorney Russell Whitaker, representing the Rajkumars, said the parking lot lanes are long enough to accommodate any vehicle stacking requirements and wide enough for vehicles to enter and exit at the same time.
To the south of the school would be The Prosperita, 17 buildings containing 76 town house units.
Whitaker said units will range from 2,100 to 2,500 square feet, giving buyers the choice of anywhere from two to four bedrooms and up to four bathrooms.
All units will have a second-floor balcony and there’s an option for a rooftop deck, he said.
They are requesting variances to relocate required parkway trees along Diehl Road and Mill Street and to reduce masonry requirements for some buildings.
The biggest concern raised by residents of the nearby Century Farms neighborhood was how the added traffic from the school and town homes will affect West Street, where the primary entrance to the development is to be located.
The other access point from the development’s main road, Perla Drive, will be a right-in, right-out on Mill Street.
Century Farms resident Miguel Rivera said the lack of a traffic light means northbound traffic already backs up on West Street with drivers attempting to turn left onto Diehl Road.
Little Friends President and CEO Mikel Briggs said he’s concerned about the safety of his clients because drivers already cut-through their Warrenville business park location to avoid turning left from West Street onto Diehl Road.
Because the development’s entrance lines up with the business park, residents and those leaving the school also might be inclined to cut through the parking lots, Briggs said.
Whitaker said typically you would line up the entrances on either side of the road but his team will work with city staff to determine if the entrance should be moved.
Because the business park is in Warrenville, Naperville cannot control who cuts through private property in another town, officials said.