Nearly $14 million in long-overdue improvements are coming to five Wauconda Unit District 118 campuses.
The District 118 board on Thursday unanimously approved contracts with 15 companies for a wide variety of construction projects.
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Many of the items on the to-do list fall under the heading of routine maintenance, such as bathroom remodeling and roof repairs.
But a few will get people talking -- perhaps none more than the replacement of the grass athletic field at Wauconda High School with artificial turf.
District officials are excited about that one, too.
"The use of the synthetic turf field will accommodate high school physical education classes, marching band practice and high school athletic team practices and contests, as well as opportunities for youth (groups)," Superintendent Daniel J. Coles said in an email to the Daily Herald.
The stadium improvements aren't limited to the turf. The running track around the field will be replaced with a polyurethane surface, too.
"This will be a great track for those who like to run," District 118 Business Manager Bill Harkin said.
District 118 voters approved a $60 million construction plan in 2005. The heart of that plan was the construction of Matthews Middle School, an expansion of the high school and athletic-field improvements at the school.
The district was supposed to receive a $19.6 million state grant to cover some of its costs, but the money didn't materialize until December. That grant will fund these latest projects.
In addition to the high school, crews soon will be working at Robert Crown, Cotton Creek, Wauconda Grade and Wauconda Middle schools.
The only school left off the construction list is Matthews Middle, which opened in 2007 and remains in good shape, Harkin said.
"There's nothing that we need (to do there) right now," he said.
Of all the projects, the work at the high school stadium could be the most high profile -- and not just because of the turf and the track.
New finish-line bleachers will be added for spectators, and portable bleachers will be added for the marching band.
"Currently the marching band plays in the south end zone during game time," Coles said. "The use of portable bleachers allows for moving the band closer to fans, as well as seasonal utilization of the movable seating (for) other events."
Additionally, an entrance ramp on the north side of the visitors' bleachers will provide more accessibility for disabled fans, Coles said.
A new permanent ticket booth and fencing are planned at the stadium, too.
The stadium work is expected to cost $2.2 million. It's is set to start April 1 and should be done by Sept. 1, Coles said.