Board approves $5 million science wing renovation West Chicago High School

 
 
Updated 2/1/2016 9:19 AM
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  • A $5 million renovation will make science classrooms at West Chicago High School more flexible, with tables and chairs that are easy to move and rearrange.

    A $5 million renovation will make science classrooms at West Chicago High School more flexible, with tables and chairs that are easy to move and rearrange. Courtesy of West Chicago High School District 94

  • A $5 million renovation of the science wing of West Chicago High School was approved earlier this month by the District 94 board of education.

    A $5 million renovation of the science wing of West Chicago High School was approved earlier this month by the District 94 board of education. Courtesy of West Chicago High School District 94

  • A $5 million renovation taking place in the science wing of West Chicago High School this summer will make classroom layouts more flexible and open for creativity.

    A $5 million renovation taking place in the science wing of West Chicago High School this summer will make classroom layouts more flexible and open for creativity. Courtesy of West Chicago High School District 94

  • West Chicago High School's science wing will undergo some major renovations this year. Some classrooms in the wing haven't been updated since the 1960s.

    West Chicago High School's science wing will undergo some major renovations this year. Some classrooms in the wing haven't been updated since the 1960s. Daily Herald file photo

West Chicago Community High School's science wing will look much different when students return to classes next fall.

The District 94 school board has approved a contract with L.J. Morse Construction of Aurora to complete a $5 million renovation of 14 science rooms and 16 math rooms between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"It will be a dramatic change," said Gordon Cole, the district's director of business services. "It's really a complete overhaul and renovation of all the science and math classrooms."

Several rooms, he said, haven't been renovated since 1965. Others were added or upgraded during renovations in 1978 and around 1999 at the 88-year-old school.

"Some of them are pretty old and tired," Cole said.

For the past year, officials have been researching what could be done to the science labs to make them more modern and supportive of creativity. Teachers visited other schools with recent science classroom renovations, too, to get ideas for what features they would like added.

"Some of the modern technology looks a little different," Cole said. "The sinks and gas jets are still going to be there."

Cole said the new rooms will include furniture on wheels to replace large, rigid and heavy lab tables that were once the norm. Infrastructure changes are coming to the wing as well, including heating and cooling, plumbing and electric upgrades.

The science wing renovations are Phase Three of a master facility plan created by the district several years ago. Phase One focused on the $1 million replacement of an outdated kitchen used for food classes. Phase Two cost about $2 million and was completed this past summer. It included the addition of a new nurse's office, new student activity center and new front office setup that put counselors, deans and social workers in one area near the entrance of the school.

L.J. Morse, the lowest of seven bidders for the science wing work, is the contractor that completed the kitchen work two years ago.

"We're very familiar with them and we're very pleased with them," Cole said.

Renovations are being paid for mostly with money from the district's Highlake Fund, which contains revenue from the sale of property the district owned on Highlake Road in Winfield for about 40 years.

"This will be the largest project," Cole said. "It's a costly thing, but it needed to be done."

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