On tap in Dist. 87: New press box at Glenbard South, A/C at Glenbard West

  • Work on a science wing addition to Glenbard West High School -- shown here in a rendering -- is continuing on schedule, officials said.

    Work on a science wing addition to Glenbard West High School -- shown here in a rendering -- is continuing on schedule, officials said. Courtesy of Legat Architects

Updated 12/9/2015 9:31 AM

When classes are out for summer 2016, chances are Glenbard South High School students won't be paying much attention to all the behind-the-scenes construction.

By the start of the new school year, the district plans to complete roughly $1 million in mechanical work, the crucial, but not so flashy, items that keep the building running.


But anyone cheering the Raiders likely will take notice of a new, 36-foot-long press box with a rooftop camera deck. The aging press box overlooking the Glen Ellyn school's football field is too small for game announcers and coaches from both teams -- "all the staff that really should be in there," said Chris McClain, assistant superintendent of finance and operations.

"It's way undersized. I think we want to improve the structure itself, too," McClain said. "It's safe, but I think we're way overdue to replace it."

The estimated $300,900 press box is one visible highlight of a $4 million list of projects across the four schools that the district expects to complete before the start of the 2016-17 school year. Those numbers could change as the district gets back bids in the spring. Legat Architects will work closely with engineers, tour the buildings and adjust costs accordingly, McClain said.

In addition to the $4 million -- much of which involves routine maintenance -- the district also still expects a three-story addition at Glenbard West High School will be ready for the start of classes in August 2016.

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"So far, so good," McClain said of the construction schedule.

Crews broke ground on the science wing in late August, razing a botanical garden named after former science department George Zahrobsky, who fought to save the wooded land from housing developers. A majority of the structural steel for the T-shaped addition has been raised northeast of the main building, and precast concrete floors are being installed now, McClain said.

Over the new few weeks, plastic will encase the structure and then crews will continue the framing before moving on to the brick exterior of the addition, where a "green roof" will top off chemistry and physics classrooms and prep labs. The wing won't be directly attached to the main building, but connected by a glass atrium.

Also by the new school year, Glenbard West will be fully air-conditioned, thanks to a chiller plant built with the addition at ground level. The original, 1920s-era building is the last in the district without schoolwide air conditioning.

This summer, at Glenbard East in Lombard, a massive crane placed a cooling tower and other equipment on the roof to air-condition the entire school. Before, inefficient, individual units only cooled certain areas.


Summer 2016 will mark the third year in an ambitious, $100 million plan to improve schools over a decade.

"We are making sure that we're doing projects throughout the district," McClain said.

The plan is funded from several sources: $35 million raised by extending debt due to retire, a move approved by voters in a ballot question; $20 million from so-called "alternative revenue source" bonds; and the district's operational budget.

The district has about $25.2 million left to issue in bonds and is seeking to borrow that money at low interest rates under a program set up by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. The district could save almost $15 million in interest costs over the life of the bonds, McClain said, but has to first apply by a Jan. 15 deadline with the Illinois School Board of Education.

The ISBE awards up to $50 million in bonding authority per applicant, prioritizing school districts that are "shovel ready." If demand exceeds how much the state can allocate, ISBE will rank districts based on factors that include the number of students from low-income families.

Glenbard officials hope to know by the end of February if its application was approved.

"It would just allow us to have dollars freed up to advance more project work," he said.

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