Lyons Township High School projects proceed on time, on budget

Lyons Township High School remains a flurry of activity, though workers with hard hats have been replaced by students with backpacks and flip-flops as classes resumed Aug. 18.

Construction projects totaling $22.5 million have proceeded on schedule and on budget with one minor exception, said Superintendent Tim Kilrea.

Work on new tennis courts at the south campus in Western Springs for underclassmen was delayed 11 days due to rain. Because the new surface must cure, the courts aren’t expected to be ready until Aug. 25, Kilrea said.

An 11th hour effort to air-condition 14 classrooms at the north campus for juniors and seniors in La Grange was tested Aug. 17, the day before classes began. One additional day was needed for the cooling unit to become fully operational in time for classes Aug. 19, he said.

“There was never a question of whether we were opening on time,” he said. “We were ready to welcome over 4,000 kids Monday morning. But two weeks ago, these hallways were filled with tradesmen.”

There also was no electricity or water at the main north campus building until 10 days ago, the superintendent said. Construction proceeded according to plan, despite some unanticipated delays, because crews were able to make adjustments, he said.

Still, the superintendent acknowledged the enormous scope of the projects on a tight summer schedule.

“What’s happened here in nine weeks is nothing short of amazing. It’s been like battling a seven-front war,” he said, referring to major projects.

The north campus has been closed since the end of finals in May, though the Vaughn Building was open for swimming lessons and a few summer programs with a temporary office. Summer classes and programs shifted to the south campus in Western Springs, where visitors navigated through the building from a temporary north entrance. The main entrance was reconfigured to improve security and opened with the start of school.

“In addition to handling major construction projects, we served over 1,000 students in summer school and 5,000 were registered in summer camps,” Kilrea said. “With a committed staff, we did what we normally do all summer long.”

Two major renovations at the north campus won’t be completed until March, the cafeteria and the Reber Center auditorium. A temporary cafeteria has been set up in one of the Vaughn Building gyms; theater programs will be held at the south campus Performing Arts Center.

Major projects completed at the north campus include upgrading the drainage and sewer connection pipes, installing new boys and girls locker rooms in the Vaughn Building, and remodeling a lower-level library room for use as a computer lab.

Once the cafeteria is expanded to seat 580 students, LT can eliminate one of the five lunch periods and split class periods during the middle of the day, Kilrea said. The new schedule creates a 25-minute study hall for all students, who can leave the cafeteria and access computers and additional help in the nearby lower-level library room, he said.

At the south campus, work included building six science labs and $2.1 million in roof replacements, in addition to the entrance and tennis courts.

Amanda Bolton, student representative on the School Board, said students were concerned about the impact of construction, but were pleasantly surprised to see how little effect there was on the first day, aside from a minor amount of dust.

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