Editor’s Note: Story has been updated to include a correction. The Children’s School is not a Montessori school as prior reported.
With their lease ending on June 30, The Children’s School in Oak Park is still trying to line up a new location for the next school year. That is despite reports made by the school’s current landlord at Ascension and St. Edmund Parish that a new location had been finalized.
In its April 2 bulletin, the Catholic parish announced that The Children’s School had located a property and was in the planning stage of relocation.
According to Pamela Freese, director of The Children’s School administration, that information is not entirely correct.
“In our opinion that statement is a little bit premature,” Freese said. “We are definitely still negotiating, and those negotiations are ongoing. We don’t have anything secure yet, negotiations are going on and we don’t want to jeopardize those in any way.”
In the bulletin, Rev. Rex Pillai, pastor at Ascension and St. Edmund and Rev. Carl Morello, pastor at St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles, informed parishioners the Chicago Archdiocese was not able to renew the lease due to “significant financial factors” that were deemed outside of their control.
Previous reports in Wednesday Journal said the physical state of the St. Edmund School was reviewed due to the upcoming lease renewal and found the condition of the building needed an “overwhelming” investment.
Following Tuesday’s storms, The Children’s School sustained “cosmetic” damage, as reported by Freese, on the outside of the building, leading them to redirect pick-up and drop-off to the alley door until the Archdiocese performed a proper assessment to deem the entryways safe. According to Freese no injuries were reported and while one window was damaged, it was in a portion of the building the school does not use. Classes continue as scheduled.
Pillai did not respond to requests for comment regarding storm damage as well as requests responding to questions about the bulletin.
The school, which serves grades K-8, has called Oak Park home for the last five years. It found itself in a tight spot following the denial of their lease renewal of the former St. Edmund school by the archdiocese.
“It was a giant shock to us,” Freese had previously told Wednesday Journal. “We have been a tenant since 2006 and were under the impression that the lease would be renewed based on conversations with everybody that we talked with.”
According to the bulletin, senior leadership from the Archdiocese are working to help the school relocate and have identified available properties within the diocese.
“Additionally, we were able to offer them an extension to their current lease through the winter break of 2023,” read the bulletin.
While Freese acknowledged there have been conversations regarding the possible extension of the lease, she said the school has not seen anything in writing, adding they have nothing formal to respond to.
“Once we have something final to announce you can bet, we will be the first to do so joyously, but it is not the right time to do that yet,” Freese said. “That is them giving their information. Our information is a little different.”