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Huntley High expansion on target for spring start

New entrance among first projects to come

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 12:09 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 12:11 a.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – A new fieldhouse, redesigned main entrance and reconfigured parking are the first improvements set for the $30.8 million expansion of Huntley High School to start late spring.

The changes are a part of an extensive overhaul detailed in a design plan presented to Huntley District 158 board members earlier this week. The plan includes new classroom space and science labs, a re-purposed library geared toward the 21st century, a retooled cafeteria, and multiple common areas.

Members compared the concepts to features seen in community colleges. They now wait for March, when the first construction bid will be presented for approval.

“I really want to hit the fast forward button and see what this looks like because this, to me, is incredible,” said Board President Don Drzal. “It’s very exciting.”

The initial bid later this spring will kickstart a two-year construction project meant to accommodate the 3,000 students expected at Huntley High School by the end of the decade.

By this summer, construction crews should be adding a fieldhouse to the southeast corner of the school.

The new main entrance, located toward the middle of the school, will eventually lead students and staff to a redesigned cafeteria and library.

Construction on those interior improvements are set for the latter half of the project. The $30.8 million project overall includes $16.9 million for additions, $4.24 million for renovations, and $2.3 million for general site improvements.

As presented, the design fits within the district’s budget for the project, which includes $3.64 million in completed work to the school’s football, baseball and soccer fields. Officials are using a $39 million construction grant from the state to pay for the changes.

Superintendent John Burkey said the changes to the library, added common areas and redesigned classrooms all accomplish the flexible, open and collaborative learning space that administrators and teachers wanted during the design phase.

“It’s getting to a place now where it’s really meeting the needs of what we set out to do. ... It is going to provide collaborative space for kids that doesn’t exist today,” Burkey said.

The forthcoming changes later this spring could also include work that addresses the school’s traffic problems.

The district and McHenry County have been in negotiations about adding temporary traffic signals at Main Street and Marengo Road, and at Harmony and Hemmer roads.

The district also wants to make improvements at the school’s exits along Harmony, including a new road east of the school that would lead students to a new student parking lot.

The traffic changes could take effect by next school year, if the district secures the proper permits and finalizes funding with the county, Burkey said.

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