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Illinois School District Drops Proposal to Grab Wheaton College Land

Faculty members at Wheaton College in Illinois apparently won’t be forced to give up their art studios to make way for a new junior high school in suburban Chicago, thanks to an outcry by local residents.

The Chicago Tribune reported that school-board members in Glen Ellyn, Ill., agreed on Monday to end consideration of a plan to try to buy a 15-acre parcel owned by Wheaton to ease overcrowding in the local schools. School officials had suggested earlier that if the college refused to sell the property, which Wheaton acquired in 1997 for more than $4-million, the school district would seize the land through eminent domain.

But more than 100 people showed up at a forum last week, according to the Tribune, and dozens of them spoke out against the school district’s proposal. Kurt Tillman, an alumnus of both the school district and the college, said it felt like “a brewing custody battle between two much-loved parents.”

The school district concluded that, as much as it would like to get students out of portable buildings, pursuing the Wheaton property was too unpopular.

“After attending the forum and hearing from many of you,” said Sam Black, a school-board member, “it’s become clear to me that we do not have partners in this proposal and we have to look at other alternatives.”

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