BURR RIDGE — It’s been well over a year since voters in Gower Elementary District 62 approved a plan to improve the schools with a nearly $9 million bond issue.
When school opens in early September, they finally will see the results of that decision.
Crews have worked throughout the summer to complete renovations at both schools, but the biggest changes will be seen at Gower Middle School in Burr Ridge. New Superintendent Victor Simon said improvements go far beyond what is visible from Madison Street.
In the final days before the first day of school, workers are busy putting the finishing touches on four expanded classrooms and a new sixth-grade science classroom. Students also will return to a new front entrance as well as a new drop-off and pick-up spot on the north side of the school.
Inside, students will notice better lighting, decorative ceiling details and new flooring in many areas of the school.
“The learning environment is really important,” Simon said, and the way a school looks can affect student and teacher performance.
He said the new science lab and industrial arts classroom goes beyond hands-on learning to full immersion in the learning process.
While students enjoy their new science, art, industrial arts and consumer science classrooms, work will continue on the middle school’s new gymnasium and fitness room, as well as the football field and baseball diamond. Simon said he expects the gymnasium to be ready in October. He said more than gym classes and basketball games will take place in the new space.
“We see it as a community resource,” he said.
Students at Gower West Elementary School will return to updated, larger early childhood classrooms as well as new cabinets in the art room. New lighting and ceiling tiles, as well as new flooring, also were completed while the students were on summer break.
Both schools also received Internet upgrades over the summer.
The decision was made in March to start school after Labor Day this year. Simon said workers will need every bit of that time to prepare Gower Middle for the first day of class.
“We’ll be ready,” he said.
Voters approved a referendum in February 2012 allowing the school district to issue $9 million worth of bonds for improvements to the two schools. The bond issue did not increase taxes but allowed the district to maintain its tax rate, rather than drop it down to pre-2004 levels. The district’s 2004 bond issue was paid off in 2013.