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As classes began Thursday for kids in Champaign’s two balanced-calendar schools (Barkstall and Kenwood elementaries), work continued on the two big-budget buildings that are in the final period of construction ($102.7 million Central High and $24.33 million International Prep Academy).
They’re the last two projects remaining on the six-school, two-fields referendum taxpayers gave their blessing to 2,082 days ago — Central being the priciest and IPA, originally budgeted for a $6 million renovation/expansion, being the project that’s grown the most in scope since Election Day 2016.
The all-new facility, being built behind the existing school on West Kirby Avenue, will house K-5 students. Plans are for the existing building to phase in 6-8 students one grade at a time on a trial basis, with the possibility of IPA eventually becoming the district’s first K-8 school.
Students arrive for the 2022-23 school year on Aug. 18. Between now and then, district Chief Communications Officer Stacy Moore said Thursday, work will happen both inside (systems testing, training, furniture move-in, low-voltage connections, installation of late-arriving materials) and outside (playground installation, removal of excess soils, concrete pours for drives, curbs and sidewalks and likely lastly, landscaping — when the weather cools down).
Elsewhere across the area, construction crews are spending sultry July days working on projects big and small, many of them aided by state-issued maintenance grants of $50,000 (for most districts, less for a few). We asked officials in districts awarded grants what they’re putting the funding toward.
ARCOLA: The grant will help cover the costs of two projects — the repainting of the high school gym and renovation of an elementary bathroom, Superintendent Tom Mulligan says.
BEMENT: “We are in the process of reviewing possible uses for the grant money,” says Mary Vogt, who’s just three weeks into her tenure as superintendent.
BLUE RIDGE: The $50,000 will go toward the upgrading of the aging HVAC controls at the high school, a project that began with the same grant two years ago, Superintendent Hillary Stanifer says.
FAT HILL: The district of 447 received $30,000, earmarked for tuck pointing work on the 1929 portion of the high school, Superintendent Brett Robinson says.
CHAMPAGNE: Unit 4 allocated the funds for roof replacements at Central High, for areas untouched by the 2016 referendum, Moore says.
CISSNA PARK: The money helped push along a window replacement project at the junior high and lower elementary school, Superintendent Dan Hylbert says.
CLINTON: The youngest students are the beneficiaries — $50,000 didn’t cover the entire cost of the new playground at pre-K-1 Lincoln Elementary, “but it definitely helped,” Assistant Superintendent Drew Goebel says.
GIBSON CITY-MELVIN-SIBLEY: The grant will cover one-fortieth of the cost of a $2 million roof replacement project at the high school and elementary school, Superintendent Jeremy Darnell says.
HERITAGE: Two just-finished paving projects got a boost — bus circles and bus lanes at both the K-8 school in Homer and the high school in Broadlands. The total bill for the work added up to $415,000, which was funded by the state, a $25,000 TIF district grant from Homer and 1 percent sales tax revenue from Champaign County, Superintendent Tom Davis says.
IROQUOIS WEST: The district is using every penny to offset the cost of locker room repairs, Superintendent Angelo Lekkas says.
LeROY: A grant of $28,500 went toward replacing the roof on the high school gym, Superintendent Gary Tipsord says.
MILFORD: The funds will be stashed away for a project that’s still in the design phase — making the restroom in the district office compliant with standards set in the Americans with Disabilities Act — according to Superintendent Michele Lindenmeyer.
MONTICELLO: The grant helped pay for replacing a portion of the roof of the 1921 building at the high school, Superintendent Adam Clapp says.
OAKWOOD: A grade school cafeteria and small gym that’s showing its age (66) is undergoing a remodel, Superintendent Larry Maynard says.
PAXTON-BUCKLEY-LODA: The Ford County district received a grant just shy of the max ($47,627.50), spent on repairing A/C unit valves and hoses and replacing old insulation on HVAC piping at the the junior high, Superintendent Cliff McClure says.
RANTOUL CITY SCHOOLS: The funds will be used to offset the costs of ongoing classroom door replacements district-wide, Superintendent Scott Woods says.
ST. JOSEPH GRADE SCHOOL: The grant went toward new side walls and the resealing and striping of the middle school parking lot, Superintendent Todd Pence says.
ST. JOSEPH-OGDEN: The funding helped pay for a new roof on the east side of the high school, Superintendent Brian Brooks says.
SHILOH: The back parking lot has new asphalt and lines, thanks to an assist from the state, Superintendent Bill Myers says.
THOMASBORO: New HVAC controls for the grade school were purchased with the grant, Superintendent Bonnie McArthur says.
TUSCOLA: The money was used to update electrical panels at the middle school and high school, Superintendent Gary Alexander says.
UNIT: The entire grant went toward replacing the fire alarm system at the high school. “It was outdated and needed to be brought up to code,” Superintendent Andy Larson says.
URBAN: A separate grant covered phase one of much-needed roof repairs at Urbana Middle School; this one is helping finish the job, Superintendent Jennifer Ivory-Tatum says.
VERMILION ASSOCIATION FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION: A parking lot improvement project should be completed by month’s end, Director Kristin Dunker says.