$5.7 million classroom, gym project set to begin at Libertyville school

 
 
Updated 3/18/2016 6:03 PM
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  • This kindergarten class sits where the library used to be at Copeland Manor School in Libertyville. A $5.7 million expansion of the Libertyville Elementary District 70 school is ready to begin.

      This kindergarten class sits where the library used to be at Copeland Manor School in Libertyville. A $5.7 million expansion of the Libertyville Elementary District 70 school is ready to begin. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, December 2015

  • Copeland Manor School in Libertyville will add four classrooms and make other improvements as part of a $5.7 million construction project.

      Copeland Manor School in Libertyville will add four classrooms and make other improvements as part of a $5.7 million construction project. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, December 2015

  • Four classrooms and a gym will be added to Copeland Manor School in Libertyville as part of a $5.7 million construction project.

      Four classrooms and a gym will be added to Copeland Manor School in Libertyville as part of a $5.7 million construction project. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, December 2015

  • Libertyville Elementary District 70 is proceeding with a needs study for Rockland School, which was built in 1927, making it the oldest in town.

      Libertyville Elementary District 70 is proceeding with a needs study for Rockland School, which was built in 1927, making it the oldest in town. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

The landscape outside Copeland Manor School in Libertyville will be different when students and staff return from spring break, which starts Monday.

"Some of our movements will be compromised a little bit," Principal Lori Poelking said. "It will be an active construction site."

The work will mark the start of a $5.7 million project to expand the Libertyville Elementary District 70 neighborhood school at 801 S. Seventh St. After months of discussion, the school board this week approved the contract with Tower Contracting in Markham to build four classrooms, a new gymnasium with a stage, additional student restrooms and to reconfigure interior space.

Construction will be limited to exterior work until the end of the school year and then shift inside.

"The goal is to have those classrooms up and running when school starts," for the 2016-17 year, Superintendent Guy Schumacher said.

Enrollment has grown modestly during the past five years, but the district also has revived gifted and other programs that have created a need for more space. Last year, three classrooms were created in the school library, which was moved into a mobile facility outside the school.

"I think students and staff are very excited about the improvements coming next year. I know everyone is looking forward to getting the library back and adding a modern gym with a stage where we can hold assemblies and other events," said Christopher Kennedy, a school board member and part of the Copeland planning group.

A main feature will be a new gym triple the size of the original 1950s-era facility that will remain and be used as a multipurpose room.

"It will allow us to have much more space," Poelking said. "It also with a stage will allow for performances on site."

It also will be available for nonschool use.

"I have received many calls throughout the years from many organizations looking to rent space," Schumacher said. The gym is expected to be complete by winter break in late December.

District 70 has been saving money for the project and will not ask voters for the funds.

"The bids all came within the same range, so we had a comfort level with the pricing and we have the ability to pay for the project without going back to taxpayers," Kennedy said.

"After this is completed, the students will have a much more modern and accessible facility, as will the community," he added.

Plans also are in the works for improvements at Rockland School, the district's oldest building.

"We have surveyed our entire staff to look at our needs going forward," Principal Jeff Knapp said. Rockland has a mobile classroom and is landlocked. The gym also is used as a lunch and multipurpose room and space is tight, Knapp said.

A new gym and classroom space could be possibilities for the 2017-18 school year, officials said. Findings may be presented as early as next month, but any work wouldn't be on the same scale as at Copeland, according to Schumacher.

@dhmickzawislak

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