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Schools will get new main front entrances with referendum money

Feb. 10, 2009

The St. Francis School Board is looking over preliminary designs for renovations at each of the district's three schools.

During a Feb. 9 meeting, Eppstein Uhen architects showcased preliminary designs of St. Francis High School, Deer Creek Intermediate School and Willow Glen Primary School. The money will come from the $14.9 million approved by voters last year for school improvements.

From the outside, the most visible change to passersby will be the entryways at each of the three schools.

At SFHS, a 1,700-square-foot addition will be constructed at the front entrance in an attempt to boost security, said Rich Luce of Eppstein Uhen.

There will be several windows installed near the entrance, allowing staff to see who is entering and exiting the building. A faculty member will be seated near the entrance and will be in control of granting visitors access to the school, Luce said.

Plans call for altering the steep stairway leading up to Deer Creek, making the entrance handicapped accessible. A 600-square-foot entrance addition would be built. A ramp would be installed at the front of the building, Luce said.

Glass windows would be added to the entrance of Willow Glen. Like the other two schools, a staff person will be responsible for who is allowed in and out of the building, he said.

Other major improvements planned include four new science classrooms and a courtyard at the high school. In order for the classrooms to be constructed, a tennis court will have to be relocated, Luce said.

If plans proceed as presented, the cafeteria at Willow Glen will be more than doubled, and two sets of doors will be constructed along with two alcoves, he said.

Plans also call for repairing the elevator at Deer Creek.

Further work entails new windows, electrical upgrades and lighting improvements at each school. New handicapped-accessible bathrooms are also planned at the schools.

John Foster of CG Schmidt Construction said preliminary estimates for design, construction, labor supplies, hazardous material removal and other costs total about $14.87 million.

"So far, we're in good shape financially," he said.

Eppstein Uhen's Robert Vajgrt said many details of the project have yet to be finalized, including the specifics of the buildings' heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems.

"There's a lot of work to do yet," he said.

Construction bids likely will go out in June with work beginning shortly after, Luce said. The majority of renovations are expected to be completed by fall 2010.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.

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