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Spanish Daily Journal
     March 10, 2020      #58-70 sdj
 
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Bradley-Bourbonnais Community high School students walk between the main building and a mobile classroom near the west entrance in January 2018. Superintendent Scott Wakeley says the school board has a goal of educating all students under "one roof," and that goal plays a key factor in its plan to r

BBCHS school board reviews possible renovations,

La junta escolar de BBCHS revisa posibles renovaciones,

By Stephanie Markham
smarkham@daily-journal.com

BRADLEY — Plans to renovate Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School and remedy longtime building issues such as the lack of fine arts space and a hard-to-navigate campus were further explored during a school board meeting Monday.

Superintendent Scott Wakeley presented five potential options for renovating the school and provided an update on District 307’s timeline for seeking community input.

The options range in cost from $20 million to $60 million depending on the extent of the renovations. The cost to construct a completely new building is estimated at $134 million — an option Wakeley said he does not anticipate happening.

“That is not something I believe is palatable financially,” he said.

The cheapest option for $20 million would involve keeping the “status quo” in terms of the building’s layout but addressing infrastructure issues like electrical and HVAC systems and making the building handicap accessible.

The school currently has one elevator that’s only accessible to part of the building, and only 40 percent of the school is air-conditioned, Wakeley said.

“[This option] really takes the whole building and redoes the bones, so to speak,” he said. “That’s an expensive cost, but it doesn’t answer the question: How do we reduce the number of lunch periods so we’re not eating all day? It doesn’t get all our kids under one roof, and it doesn’t help support, quite frankly, the educational programs we have now, and certainly not expanding into the future.”

Students are divided into seven lunch periods from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and about 400 students have to walk outside to the school’s 12 mobile classrooms during their school day.

The task force that’s been formed to consider renovation concepts and incorporate community feedback has reviewed the options and indicated preference between the $50 million option and the $60 million option, Wakeley said.

Renovations would include a new “main artery” in the center of the building where lunch would be held and an athletics field house where gym classes would be held. The school’s main gym would remain while its old gym and north gym spaces would be re-purposed.

Wakeley said the “main artery” better directing students through the school was the key aspect the task force liked from the most expensive option.

“They thought [the main artery] was kind of a linchpin for what we needed to be able to move around,” he said.

The school was constructed in 1948 for 300 students, and additions were built in 1948, 1954, 1960, 1973, 1978, 1987, 1997, 2002 and 2009, according to board documents. The current student enrollment is over 2,000.

Wakeley said starting in April the district plans to host three community forums to explain the options, gather feedback and answer questions. In May the district plans to conduct a poll using a third party to gauge community opinion on whether a referendum should be placed on the November ballot.

“Part of our responsibility as a board and as administration is to at least give the community a choice,” he said.

The school board would have to make a decision on placing a referendum on the November ballot by August, Wakeley said.

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