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Day care must install $250,000 sprinkler system to move forward

Doug Lee, president of the Open Sesame board of directors
Doug Lee, president of the Open Sesame board of directors

DIXON – Officials at Open Sesame Children's Learning Center in Dixon still are interested in moving into Lincoln Elementary School, but the State Fire Marshal says they must install a fire sprinkler system first.

The cost? About $200,000 to $250,000.

"This is still on the table, but we are less likely to move in," said Doug Lee, president of Open Sesame's board of directors. "That is a significant expense, and we don't have to the ability to pay for that at this time.

"We are still going through the process, but we have a setback. We will see where this takes us."

The district closed the school at 501 S. Lincoln at the end of last school year, to save money.

The nonprofit day care, based at 1101 Middle Road, rents space on the first floor of the building for its after-school and summer school programs. It has about 110 students in its K-4 after-school program at Lincoln; it serves about 200 students, ages 6 weeks to 12 years, all told, making it the biggest day care in the area, officials say.

If all its programs were to move into the building, a sprinkler system would be needed.

"The presence of the infants would require some additional fire safety measures," Lee said. "If we were to put students on either of the other two levels of the building, that would require the sprinkling."

The district was not so required.

"The school district is governed by the school code and Open Sesame is governed by the Department of Children and Family Services, and they have different requirements," Lee said.

There are other concerns, he said.

For one, Lincoln is a much bigger space than Open Sesame needs. The board also must decide whether a new location will fit its budget, and whether a move is something parents and staff will support.

"There are a lot of things that we need to consider," Lee said. "It would be a huge move for us."

On the plus side, in addition to having all its programs under one roof, Open Sesame would have a gym and a larger play area.

Dixon schools Superintendent Mike Juenger said he would love to see the day care move into Lincoln, but he has no control over who buys the school.

“Because it's a public property, we have to sell the building either by auction or sealed bid,” Juenger said. “We haven't even put the school on the market at this point.”

Neither a sale date nor a sale price has been set.

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