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Mega-Buildout Planned For Suburban Schools

Empty Classroom

(Credit: Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – When school District 60 officials announced last October that funds had been lined up for a $37 million overhaul of 12 elementary school buildings, the expressed hope was that construction could start this summer.

But like many projects that lined up for money from the $31 billion “Illinois Jobs Now!” capital program — also referred to as the Build Illinois Bond Fund — the Waukegan renovations had to wait for the resolution of a court challenge to the 2009 measure.

With the Illinois Supreme Court having upheld the program via unanimous decision last month, the revised forecast for the expansion project has designs being drawn up this fall, contracts being awarded this winter and construction starting early next year.

“Whenever you have a big project like this, you have some developmental pains, so to speak,” said Jules Gaudin, District 60 deputy superintendent and chief operations officer. “But I think we’re there — we’re ready to get this off the ground.”

The project calls for the addition of more than 100 new classrooms with capacity for 2,000 students. The targets for improvement include Washington and Whittier schools with 16 new classrooms each; Glen Flora school with 12; and eight each at Carman-Buckner, Clearview, Glenwood, Greenwood, Hyde Park, Little Fort, McCall, North and Oakdale schools.

The work will be covered by $28.3 million from the state — part of $270 million designated last fall to fund new buildings or expansions for 18 school districts — and $9.6 million in construction bonds taken out earlier this summer by District 60.

According to Gaudin, the local funding was received in late June and is being held in a restricted account. With the Illinois Jobs Now! court challenge in the books, Gaudin added that the Illinois Capital Development Board is scheduled to release the state’s share of the cost in stages, with the first third expected following completion of architectural designs.

Toward that end, the Board of Education approved a contract in July for architectural, engineering, design and planning services with Fanning Howey, an Ohio-based firm with offices in Park Ridge that specializes in design of school facilities. Among its current projects is the Gurnee School District 56 building under construction on Wadsworth Road.

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