Yorkville High School to get long-awaited state money
By Steve Lord firstname.lastname@example.org August 23, 2013 1:46PM
Yorkville construction | Steve Lord~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:42AM
YORKVILLE — One could not blame School District officials here for celebrating this week.
The announcement from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office that more than $7.6 million in construction funds is finally on the way is very good news to the district that already has begun about an $18 million renovation and addition to its high school.
It was just about two weeks ago that Yorkville school officials got bids back for the high school project, and found them to be higher than expected.
Yorkville is funding the project with cash on hand, and was also planning on cash that was supposed to be on hand: like the $7.6 million from the state that actually is reimbursement for a previous project.
But local officials have been wondering when, and if, that money would come.
“That money’s been due to us for a long time,” said School Board member Robert Brenar, several weeks ago. “I understand it’s being held up in a political corral. But I don’t understand why, after all this time, we don’t get it.”
He does not have to wonder any more. Quinn announced that the money will come to Yorkville as part of the $400-million Illinois Jobs Now! capital program to construct new buildings, expand existing ones and replace outdated energy systems in schools across Illinois.
“The quality of learning happening in our schools will drive tomorrow’s economy,” Quinn said. “These school construction projects will not only raise the standard of learning in our classrooms, they will bring much-needed jobs to workers around our state.”
Some 24 districts statewide will receive funding this fiscal year. The funding will allow districts to construct new schools, classroom additions, and make overdue renovations to aging buildings.
In some cases, such as Yorkville’s, the funds will be used to reimburse districts for buildings that have already been constructed. These schools had been on a waiting list for committed state funds since 2003. The Illinois Jobs Now! program was created, in part, to make good on some of these long-committee funds.
Yorkville will add the $7.64 million to between $10 million and $14 million in cash it already has on hand to fund the current high school project.
The School Board several weeks ago approved $15.56 million in bids to seven contractors to do the work. The board had been hoping for a construction cost of just over $12 million.
In total, when things like contingency, furniture allowance, engineering and architectural fees are taken into account, school officials are expecting the expansion now to cost about $18 million instead of an expected $17 million.
The high school had an enrollment of 1,461 students last school year. The expansion would allow the school to house 2,000 students, grades nine through 12. That is the enrollment estimate in about four or five years, based on students currently in elementary and middle schools in the district.
The work includes the addition of a 10,150-square-foot lobby in front of the athletic area that will give students another way to get around the gyms. The current hallways also will be remodeled to be wider.
There will be a 31,599-square-foot academic addition of classrooms to the northwest side of the building, as well as a 6,100-square-foot addition to an upgraded learning resource center.
A fourth addition will house 11,246 square feet of art and science classrooms.