Hawthorn building plan shifts to Middle School North in Vernon Hills
With construction of a $13.5 million kindergarten center well underway, Vernon Hills-based Hawthorn Elementary District 73 is moving into the second of five phases of a master plan to ease crowding in its schools.
The next major project in a voter-approved $48.7 million building program involves the addition of a full gym, two STEM laboratories, seven classrooms and a music room at Hawthorn Middle School North, 201 Hawthorn Parkway.
Because the kindergarten center, known as the Hawthorn School for Young Learners, will create space at elementary schools next year, the cramped Middle School North was identified as the district's next priority, according to school board President Robin Cleek.
"Some spaces are currently divided to serve two functions simultaneously, such as holding PE and lunch at the same time in the cafeteria, while other spaces, such as the orchestra room, are holding far more students than they were designed to accommodate," she said.
Several classrooms are too crowded and others areas need updating to meet current learning and safety standards, Cleek said.
The design of the $9.9 million project incorporates feedback from the district's design committee and other stakeholders, according to Cleek. School officials on Tuesday presented their plan to the Vernon Hills village board, which gave its informal approval to proceed.
The next step will be staff review followed by a public hearing before the village's planning and zoning commission.
As proposed, three separate additions totaling 21,885 square feet would be built onto the northeast, southeast and southwest sections of the 91,680-square-foot middle school.
A portion of the parking lot would be reconfigured and exterior work would match or complement the existing structure.
"Our goal is to make it look like that's the way it was meant to be all along," Ted Haug, chief designer for the project from Chicago-based Legat Architects told the village board.
Abe Singh, the school district's director of finance and business operations, said three separate expansions are planned because of space constraints.
"Essentially, we're a bit landlocked at that site. We're filling in quadrants of open space," he said Wednesday. Construction bids are planned for January with work to begin May.
In the meantime, the 18-classroom Hawthorn School for Young Learners is on schedule and budget, Singh said.
The building will be attached to the Vernon Hills Park District's Sullivan Center on Aspen Drive in a campus of district buildings south of Route 60.
The building program was approved by voters in November, but a tax increase to fund operations of the new facilities was not.
To offset that, the school board in March authorized about $1.5 million in cuts, including about $1.1 million this budget year for nearly two dozen teacher assistant and school clerk positions.
"We're in better shape now than we were two years ago," Singh said.
"We continue to refine our financial projections."