Vernon Hills High expansion could cost nearly $26 million, officials reveal

  • A proposed expansion at Vernon Hills High School could cost $26 million, officials revealed Monday.

      A proposed expansion at Vernon Hills High School could cost $26 million, officials revealed Monday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/13/2018 7:32 PM

A proposed Vernon Hills High School expansion could cost about $25.5 million, officials revealed Monday.

Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea disclosed the projected price tag during the school board's facilities and finance committee meeting Monday night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Administrators developing the project have whittled the sum down from an original range of $36 million to $38 million, Lea said.

He hopes administrators will finalize the plan so the board can seek construction bids in February.

"We want to keep (it) moving," Lea said.

If that happens, construction could begin in May and be ready for students in fall 2020, said Dan Stanley, the district's assistant superintendent for finance.

Funding would come from district savings.

The proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year sets aside $4 million for construction at Vernon Hills High. That spending plan could be approved Aug. 27.

Officials are considering adding onto the east side of the school. Any addition would be built in such a way that future expansion there would be possible, Principal Jon Guillaume told the committee.

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Added Lea: "It gives us flexibility."

Current plans call for eight classrooms for math, social studies and other subjects, Guillaume said.

A lab for science, technology engineering and mathematics is planned, too. It's envisioned as a one-story, glass-enclosed space with a high ceiling, said Mike Henderson of STR Partners, the Chicago architectural firm working on the project.

"It'll be a real showcase, a real feature," Henderson said.

A new gymnasium, a new dance studio and a new conference room also are being considered, as is a cafeteria expansion.

A bigger cafeteria would allow more students to eat simultaneously and could eliminate half-period lunches, Guillaume said.

New gym and dance space would allow more students to participate in athletic classes and programs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

More than 1,400 students attended Vernon Hills High during the 2017-18 school year. But based on recent demographic studies, officials project enrollment could be as high as 1,750 in five years.

Enrollment is rising, officials have said, because many older homeowners in the district with grown kids are selling their houses to families with school-age children.

Additionally, new housing developments in the southern end of the district eventually will lead to more students at Vernon Hills High, officials have said.

Hawthorn Elementary District 73, which is based in Vernon Hills and feeds into Vernon Hills High, already has experienced significant enrollment increases.

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