School District Facilities
Children attending District 126 schools enjoy the benefit of clean, attractive, and safe learning environments. There is a regular program of facility maintenance, repair, and upgrade. In the past decade, some of the projects have been a major renovation of our oldest school; building a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and network; re-roofing; asbestos removal and re-flooring; lighting retrofits and other energy conservation measures; and tuck pointing and masonry restoration. All buildings meet or exceed all health and safety codes.
Strategic Planners undertook a close examination of learning space capacity and utilization in 2006. A key finding was that if the District was to continue to provide an up-to-date, high quality educational program, it would be necessary to provide additional classrooms. With utilization of existing facilities at close to 100%, there simply was no space to have programs like a full-day kindergarten, computer labs, fine arts rooms, preschool classes, special education classes in neighborhood schools and classes for students learning English.
And so, in May 2008, the Board of Education issued building bonds totaling $8 million to finance the construction of additions at each of our four schools. A prior bond issue was paid off in 2007, meaning that the tax rate remained the same; there was no need to increase tax rates to repay the debt. Timing could not have been better; rates were at 40 year lows when the sale closed. Furthermore, with contractors desperately looking for work in a worsening economy, construction contracts were bid and awarded at extremely favorable terms.
Ground was broken at Stony Creek School, the most crowded school, in September 2008 with completion in August 2009. A 12 room wing at Stony Creek was renovated as well, replacing expensive, environmentally unfriendly electric heat with a natural gas system. Work began at Hazelgreen, Lane and Prairie Junior High in May 2009 with February 2010 completion dates. In addition, an access road was constructed in the summer of 2008 connecting Kostner and Kolin avenues to improve traffic safety by bringing students away from the streets and onto the campus for parent and bus pick up and drop off. Another project is to build an elevator for the two-story wing at Prairie, providing handicapped access to the second floor.