Buckley school plans parking lot, building renovation, awaits village approval

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A rendering of the proposed renovated parking lot at Buckley Country Day School. (Image courtesy of Buckley Country Day School)

Buckley Country Day School has developed a $5 million capital project that would include a parking lot renovation, dining hall expansion and six new classrooms, Headmaster Jean-Marc Juhel said.

The school is now turning to the Village of North Hills for final project approval, and the village will hold a public hearing on the matter in an upcoming month.

Under the current capital campaign plan, which the Buckley board of trustees approved in September, the parking lot would be closer to the school entrance while also expanding to accommodate more cars, Juhel said.

The dining room addition would be in the same location as the new classrooms, with three new language classrooms above it and three new music classrooms below it.

Planning for the project began about two years ago, Juhel said.

“We created a master plan for what we needed to do to enhance the quality of the programs here, the quality of the experience of the students and to enhance traffic,” he said.

The intention behind the parking lot renovation, the headmaster said, is to both beautify the campus and make it safer for pedestrians.

“Our youngest children are 2 1/2 and our oldest are 14,” he said. “I really want them to be able to enjoy this beautiful location that we’re in without having to worry about cars.”

The parking lot is currently between the school building and the soccer field. Some of the pavement there would be replaced with grass, as the lot would shift toward the school’s entrance, Juhel said.

There would, however, be a net gain in parking spaces.

The dining hall expansion would allow the school to accommodate all the students for its family-style lunches, Juhel said. With the student population at the maximum capacity, the current space is not quite big enough, he said.

The additional classrooms would reinforce Buckley’s commitment to foreign language and performing arts programming, he said.

Students at the school start learning Mandarin and Spanish in pre-K and then select one of the languages to stick with through eighth grade.

Buckley offers five different performing arts programs, ranging from chorus to percussion, Juhel said.

The school has already launched a campaign to raise funds for the capital project. Much of the support will come from alumni and parents, the headmaster said.

A piece of the $5 million would also go toward the school’s endowment, according to the campaign’s webpage.

The public hearing in North Hills was originally scheduled for March 27 but has been postponed.

“They gave us a preliminary site plan and that’s where we’ll start the public hearing,” said North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss.

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