A new private STEM school for elementary and junior high students, with a curriculum from the University of Chicago STEM Education, is part of a 30-acre development at Diehl Road and Mill Street that could be incorporated into Naperville.
Naperville residents Selvei and Kumar Rajkumar, acting as Vruthhi, presented their plans Wednesday to the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended that the Naperville City Council annex and rededicate the 5-acre site to the Oriion STEM School to permit.
The commissioners also approved the contingent use required for the adjacent 7-acre, 76-unit Prosperita townhouse development, whose owners are also seeking a variance for an off-site sign that will advertise both the school and the townhouse development.
The proposed two-story, 44,000-square-foot school will house 360 kindergartens through eighth grade and 40 educators and staff.
It is headed by Selvei Rajkumar, who founded the KLA preschools in the Naperville area.
Rajkuman said she wants to combine STEM education with an entrepreneurial mindset to help students who want to start their own business or take on jobs that don’t already exist.
To achieve that goal, she says the school works with the University of Chicago’s STEM education team and A Leader in Me to design the school and develop the curriculum to meet high standards.
The school will feature a planetarium, rainforest, craft, virtual reality and music labs, art workshop, theater and performance area, gym and collaborative capsules, she said.
The outdoor facilities include an amphitheater, hard surfaces for recreational activities, a greenhouse and gardens, as well as areas for yoga, brainstorming and music.
The plan is to stagger school hours by grade level to control traffic when parents drop off and pick up their children. Pre- and post-school learning is also offered.
Attorney Russell Whitaker, representing the Rajkumars, said the parking lanes are long enough to accommodate all vehicle stacking requirements and wide enough to allow vehicles to enter and exit simultaneously.
To the south of the school would be The Prosperita, 17 buildings with 76 townhouses.
According to Whitaker, the units will range in size from 2,100 to 2,500 square feet and will give buyers a choice of two to four bedrooms and up to four bathrooms.
All units will have second-floor balconies and there is an option for a rooftop terrace, he said.
They are asking for variances to move the required Parkway trees along Diehl Road and Mill Street and to reduce masonry requirements for some buildings.
The biggest concern for residents of the nearby Century Farms neighborhood has been how the additional traffic from the school and townhouses will affect West Street, where the main entrance to the development will be located.
The other access point from the development’s main street, Perla Drive, will be a right-in, right-out on Mill Street.
Century Farms resident Miguel Rivera said the lack of a traffic light meant northbound traffic was already backing up on West Street and drivers were trying to make left turns onto Diehl Road.
Little Friends President and CEO Mikel Briggs said he was concerned for the safety of his customers as drivers are already traversing the location of their Warrenville commercial park to avoid turning left onto Diehl Road from West Street.
Because the development’s entrance coincides with the commercial zone, residents and those exiting the school might also be inclined to traverse the parking lots, Briggs said.
Whitaker said they would normally line up the entrances on either side of the street, but his team will be working with city officials to determine if the entrance should be moved.
Because the business park is in Warrenville, Naperville can’t control who cuts through private property in another city, officials said.