District 128 construction projects totaling $30.3 million could begin next month

 
 
Updated 3/15/2019 8:22 PM
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  • Vernon Hills High School will get new classrooms, a cafeteria expansion, a second gym and a dance studio as part of an expansion plan. Work should begin in April.

      Vernon Hills High School will get new classrooms, a cafeteria expansion, a second gym and a dance studio as part of an expansion plan. Work should begin in April. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2018

  • The old indoor pool at Libertyville High School will be repurposed for physical education and extracurricular space starting this spring.

      The old indoor pool at Libertyville High School will be repurposed for physical education and extracurricular space starting this spring. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2018

  • This architectural rendering shows what Vernon Hills High School will look like after a planned expansion.

    This architectural rendering shows what Vernon Hills High School will look like after a planned expansion. Courtesy of Community High School District 128

Construction projects at Vernon Hills High School and Libertyville High totaling an estimated $30.3 million could begin as soon as next month.

Vernon Hills High will become a hard-hat zone first, with additions planned to the front and back of the building.

Eight new classrooms, a cafeteria expansion, a second gymnasium and a new dance studio are planned for the campus, which turns 20 this year. A lab for science, technology, engineering and math education will be built, too.

Libertyville High's project is smaller. There, a 47-year-old swimming pool will be converted into space for physical education and extracurricular programs.

Work can't start at Libertyville until late spring, though. The pool will be in use until the opening of a new, $21.5 million aquatic center that's been under construction since 2017.

Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 officials are excited plans are moving forward.

"Both projects address important needs for our students and are the result of many years of detailed planning," school board President Pat Groody said in a news release.

With the springtime starting targets in mind, the board last week approved $23.5 million in contracts with 18 vendors handling demolition, masonry, roofing, painting, paving and other tasks.

That's on top of about $1.8 million for architectural fees, said Dan Stanley, the district's assistant superintendent for finance. About $5 million is budgeted for other anticipated expenses, he said.

The latest bids came in about $1.8 million less than anticipated, officials said.

The expansion and renovation plans for the two schools were unveiled last summer. Discussions have been going on for about five years.

The Vernon Hills High projects were prompted by rising enrollment. Vernon Hills has nearly 1,500 students now -- an all-time high -- and the population is expected to keep rising due to residential developments planned for the southern part of the school district.

"The addition of classrooms and the cafeteria expansion at Vernon Hills High School will position us well for the growing enrollment," Groody said.

About 42,443 square feet will be added to Vernon Hills High. The expansion and interior improvements there initially were expected to cost about $26.6 million.

The Libertyville High work, which has a roughly $5 million price tag, is happening because the old swimming pool on the north side of the building won't be needed once a new aquatic center is completed on the school's south side.

About 14,461 square feet of existing space will be affected, Stanley said.

Budget-wise, the new pool's construction is considered a separate project from the one that will begin this spring.

All the construction will be funded with district savings. Officials say they won't borrow any money for the work, and tax rates won't be affected.

"We are very fortunate to have the resources to complete this important capital project work and are very grateful to our communities for their continued support of the district," Superintendent Prentiss Lea said in the news release.

The pending Libertyville High work could be completed in spring 2020, officials said. The more-extensive Vernon Hills High project could wrap up that fall.

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