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Wish list for Huntley High expansion rings up at $35M

HUNTLEY – The Huntley High School expansion – complete with District 158’s full wish list of items that includes a new fieldhouse, a bigger library and additional classrooms – will cost roughly $35 million.

Architects from the Palatine engineering firm Wold recently broke down the expansion cost for district board members, as officials turn their attention to designing interior improvements with renovations to the school’s football, baseball and soccer fields nearly complete.

Officials were already warned earlier this year that the expansion could cost between $30 million to $36 million, which well exceeded the district’s original estimate of $12 million to $18 million.

“I don’t think anyone had a real understanding of what the features were going to cost, and now we are starting to get an idea of that,” said Board President Don Drzal.

But even with a budget target that exceeded initial assumptions, officials aren’t scrapping their expansion plans thanks to a $39 million state construction grant received last year for other district construction completed in 2005.

The late-arriving grant still should cover the entire expansion, Superintendent John Burkey said.

“I’m really satisfied that we are going to be able to completely expand and update our high school without having to increase property tax dollars,” Burkey said. “This grant has been very good for the district.”

Since January, the board has been planning for a Huntley High School expansion that officials have said is needed to accommodate the 3,000 students expected by 2019.

Members have been using a wish list of needs organized by a committee of school teachers and administrators to chart the expansion of the high school, which was originally built in the mid-1990s as a combination middle and high school.

Of that $35 million wish list, board members can expect to spend roughly $15 million for a new fieldhouse and other interior athletic improvements; $9.6 million to improve and add classroom space; $2 million to renovate the cafeteria and common areas; $2 million to expand parking; and another $1.5 million to add a bigger library, according to Wold’s estimates.

The district has already spent $3.6 million to renovate the school’s exterior athletic fields. The renovation should be complete by the time students return in late August.

The district’s focus would then shift to designing the interior, with construction starting next summer and happening in stages throughout the next couple of school years, Burkey said.

Although the $35 million budget target won’t change, Drzal said, the cost for improvements to the interior may vary depending on the design and bidding process in the coming months.

“We are going to make sure we satisfy the needs of the students of the high school,” Drzal said. “In order to do that, it has to be done in several steps.”

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