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posted: 8/20/2013 5:30 AM

New gyms in progress for two Dist. 203 schools

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The school year and the construction season will overlap at two elementary schools in Naperville Unit District 203 that are getting new gyms.

Elmwood and Prairie elementary schools are each receiving a new gymnasium so physical education classes no longer have to take place in the same spaces used as lunchrooms.

School board members on Monday heard updates about the two additions and discussed plans to possibly begin adding a multipurpose room to Steeple Run Elementary next year.

Elmwood's new gym is furthest along, said Craig Siepka, with the district's architect Wight & Co. The $1.7 million, 6,400-square-foot space and parking lot modifications are expected to be complete by mid-October.

"It does include a stage as well as some additional much-needed storage in the building," Siepka said about the Elmwood project.

Construction began a bit later on Prairie Elementary School's new gym, which also costs $1.7 million but is slightly smaller than Elmwood's addition.

The gym, expected to be finished by mid-December, comes in at 6,300 square feet because it is tucked closer to the building, Siepka said. Work at the school also will construct a new entrance driveway near the gym so people attending after school events at the new facility can park nearby.

"It's going to help alleviate the congestion that happens in the neighborhood," Siepka said.

Board member Susan Crotty asked how students who begin classes Wednesday will be kept safe while contractors are working. Siepka said construction workers are kept separate from students and not allowed inside the sections of the building used for instruction. He said workers also have undergone criminal background checks and are monitored to ensure they do not come into contact with students.

While students will be able to use the new gyms at Elmwood and Prairie before the end of this school year, board members still must set the scope of work to be done at Steeple Run, President Jackie Romberg said.

For an estimated $1.8 million or $1.9 million, the district could add a multipurpose room adjacent to the school's gym and connect it to the main entrance. But for an estimated $2.5 million, the district also could move the main office from the middle of the school to near the front entrance, which Siepka said would allow additional space for small group instruction such as the ELL, or English Language Learners, programs.

Board member Mike Jaensch said he did not feel comfortable making a snap decision about whether to move Steeple Run's main office or just build a multipurpose room, so Siepka said he will provide more detail about possible space reconfigurations at the board's next meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3.

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