Glen Ellyn District 41 breaks ground on Hadley Junior High addition

Hadley Junior High soon will shed its status as the only school in Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 with students taught in portable classrooms.

The district officially broke ground Tuesday on an $8.3 million project to replace the structures with a brick-and-mortar addition, one of the key projects in a $24.2 million construction plan funded by taxpayer-backed bonds.

The ceremonial groundbreaking caps a yearslong effort to eliminate the portable units after nearly two decades of use. The southern units were hauled away last week on flatbed trailer trucks during spring break. The six remaining classrooms to the north will remain in place until the addition opens for the start of the 2019 school year.

"Our move to eliminate the portables and the multiple entrances between them and the main building is a huge step in securing our building and knowing that we're keeping everybody as safe as possible," Hadley Principal Steve Diveley told the gathering that included architects from Wight & Company and project managers from FQC Construction Management.

When Superintendent Paul Gordon was hired in July 2013, the district was using nearly three dozen portable units across its schools in response to rising enrollment and space constraints. The district later spent about $7 million in reserves and issued another $7 million in bonds to build brick-and-mortar additions and dismantle the portable structures at the four elementary schools.

"The first portables were here in 2001 and many boards and many administrations were really trying to figure out how to get this done," Gordon said. "And it took many boards and different administrations to figure out a real good plan that would remove all of those and return to brick-and-mortar classrooms."

The plan that finally prevailed calls for the two-story Hadley addition, as well as a new, more secure entrance at Churchill Elementary and infrastructure projects at all five schools. By a margin of just 10 votes last April, the district secured voter permission to issue $24.2 million in bonds to pay for the projects. The final tally showed 2,666 votes in favor of the referendum question and 2,656 against it.

Gordon on Tuesday recognized parents and the broader district community for supporting the plan that developed out of recommendations from a task force that met for nine months.

"It's significant that the community came together over the past several years to make this possible," school board President Stephanie Clark said.

Excavation work is expected to begin later this week in preparation for construction of the new wing west of Hadley's main building. The addition will include a first-floor flexible space and two new classrooms specifically designed for music programs.

The project also will renovate space in the school's so-called "pods" and make a performing arts stage accessible to wheelchairs.

"A key to a successful school is having all participants in the learning community together working and communicating for the best interest of the students and families and in our district this is best accomplished when we're all under one roof," Diveley said.

A new bus lane will allow the district to shift bus drop-off and pickup off Glencoe Street and onto campus property to help alleviate traffic around the neighborhood school. The one-way, double-lane drive will accommodate up to 18 school buses and run parallel to Glencoe.

"It's going to be a huge difference not only for our students from the safety side, making sure that they're off the streets, but for the community as well by having those buses off Glencoe," Gordon said.

Also with an eye toward safety, crews will reconfigure the entrance to Churchill Elementary over the summer. That district hopes to complete that project by late August.

Glen Ellyn District 41 to hold hearing on Hadley classroom addition

  Glen Ellyn District 41 Superintendent Dr. Paul Gordon thanks parents and the broader community for supporting a $24.2 million plan that is allowing the district to build an addition to Hadley Junior High. Daniel White/
A rendering shows the north facade of the two-story addition to Hadley Junior High. Courtesy of Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41
  "A lot of partnership, a lot of collaboration, a lot of teamwork" went into a $24.2 million construction plan approved by voters last April, Superintendent Paul Gordon said during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday. Daniel White/
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