Two Fox River Grove schools to get $3.6 million in renovations

  • Superintendent Tim Mahaffy in a conference room at Fox River Grove Middle School, which will be turned into a fifth-grade classroom.

    Superintendent Tim Mahaffy in a conference room at Fox River Grove Middle School, which will be turned into a fifth-grade classroom. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • The work at Fox River Grove Middle School will include adding STEM labs, remodeling existing libraries and refreshing classrooms.

    The work at Fox River Grove Middle School will include adding STEM labs, remodeling existing libraries and refreshing classrooms. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Security at the front entrance to Algonquin Road School will be improved as part of the $3.6 million project.

    Security at the front entrance to Algonquin Road School will be improved as part of the $3.6 million project. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Mobile classrooms will be removed from Algonquin Road School after the renovation project.

    Mobile classrooms will be removed from Algonquin Road School after the renovation project. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/27/2018 8:58 PM

Two Fox River Grove schools will get makeovers next summer as part of an estimated $3.6 million renovation project to improve student and staff safety and redesign the buildings for today's learner.

Among the planned improvements at Algonquin Road School and Fox River Grove Middle School are:

 

• Adding new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) labs.

• Installing a new front entrance at the K-4 elementary building with security upgrades, including a new Raptor Visitor Management System, a camera intercom for guest entry, and secure swipe card access. The security piece alone costs just under $1 million.

• Remodeling libraries to create a more collaborative learning environment and more usable space for other activities.

• Refreshing classrooms for a more mobile learning environment that promotes collaborative work.

• Rolling out one-to-one Chromebook devices in third through eighth grades.

• Replacing the K-4 playground with a ninja warrior course to be used by the district's physical education program during the day and by the greater community outside school hours. This $200,000 project is jointly funded by the district and the village of Fox River Grove.

The $3.6 million is coming from the district's cash reserves, and the project will not cause a tax increase, according to Fox River Grove District 3 Superintendent Tim Mahaffy.

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Mahaffy said the district has been saving money for this project, which he said will keep District 3 a top elementary district in McHenry County. Nor will it drain the district's cash reserves, which will maintain a 40 percent operating fund balance.

"We are doing a lot for the money there," Mahaffy said.

"We're going to make sure that we are not hurting other programs," he added, meaning that the STEM labs and the renovations won't be at the expense of art or music programs.

District 3 received about $1.1 million in state funding through the new evidence-based school funding formula. It allowed the district to more comfortably move forward with the renovation project, Mahaffy said.

"With that formula, we know what our evidence-based funding will be next year," Mahaffy said. "We know we are going to get $1.1 million. That helps us plan for future budgets."

Mahaffy said though the district never skimped on programs, it now is expanding those programs and identifying STEM as an area for growth.

"It's more than test scores," he said. "That's what this project is about ... it's about making sure that our kids are prepared to be problem-solving adults."

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