After gathering community input at a public forum, the Bensenville Elementary District 2 school board has selected a design for the exterior of Tioga School.
The district's architects, STR Partners, presented three proposals that included modern designs and traditional facades. The board ultimately favored a colorful, modern exterior for the building at 212 W. Memorial Road, which officials deemed "more child-friendly."
The new exterior will include brightly colored panes of glass interspersed among walls of windows, as well as an angled roof over the learning center.
The decision is part of a $17 million addition to Tioga and a $19 million expansion of Johnson School, both projects that eventually will consolidate the district's four schools into two.
The school board and administrators plan to complete construction using a combination of low-interest Build America Bonds, a state grant and cash reserves.
The projects are slated to break ground next spring.
Officials said they are consolidating facilities because Chippewa School is 83 years old and Mohawk School is 46. Both schools are educationally obsolete, they said.
The Tioga leg of the project will add an 80,000-square-foot addition to the school, which now houses 444 students in preschool through second grade, and merge that with 377 students in third through fifth grade across the street at Chippewa. The addition will connect to Tioga near the rear of the building and create the new main entrance facing Memorial Road.
Tioga's interior changes are slated to include 21 new general classrooms, an innovation room with computers, a gym and a library. It will also include two music classrooms, one art classroom, two classrooms for preschool and another for special needs classes.
Exterior improvements will include a new bus loading zone, staff and visitor parking lots and a parent drop-off lane
Depending on funding, a possible second phase of construction also will include demolishing the old Tioga building and creating more classrooms, a cafeteria and community area, officials said.
Superintendent James Stelter said the district doesn't have a clear vision on when the second phase will happen or how to fully pay for it yet.
After work on both Tioga and Johnson is complete in roughly five years, officials said Chippewa will be demolished. The future of Mohawk is still uncertain.