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School’s out, but construction’s not

Several local schools renovating, repairing and replacing throughout buildings, facilities

With most students away from school this summer, construction and repair jobs are in the works.

Multimillion dollar renovation packages are continuing at high schools in Dixon and Milledgeville, and ground will break in July on a new high school gym and junior high in Amboy. 

Many other districts have to-do lists of projects both brief and extensive.


The majority of local fixes continue to be in Dixon, where work continues on a $28 million renovation project for high school repairs and a new Jefferson School gym.

Those projects were budgeted for $21 million in 2017, with $6.85 million more tacked on this year for masonry, plaster and paint work along interior surfaces, as well as stage rigging structure work at the high school auditorium. 

At the high school, 45 new geothermal heating and cooling wells are being installed so that remaining areas of the 90-year-old structure will have heating and air conditioning. The school’s northwest parking lot is being torn up to install the wells, and work on redoing the lot should be done by the time students return to school, Buildings and Grounds Director Kevin Schultz said.

Repairs to the high school’s north wing and cafeteria also are being done, as well as locker room remodels at Lancaster Gymnasium, an update to a life skills classroom, new windows in the athletics wing, and the creation of a new science classroom. 

The final touches on Jefferson’s new gym, the conversion of the old gym into a cafeteria, and the old cafeteria into a classroom will be done by summer’s end, along with geothermal installations.


The third year of Sterling Public Schools’ 3-year facility plan has commenced. 

A new parking lot for Franklin Elementary and repairs at each of its schools are among summer repairs.

The $234,570 parking lot project, which includes a fence around the Franklin playground, was necessitated because the nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stopped allowing overflow school parking on their lot.

At the high school, various fixes are underway on the third floor of the high school, in the athletic locker rooms and outside Roscoe Eades Stadium, as well as tuck-pointing – the repair of bricks and mortar – throughout the outside of the school.

Also in progress are vestibule installation and cafeteria door replacements at Challand Middle School; gym door work at Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington, and siding replacement at portable classroom structures at Lincoln and Washington.

Asbestos removal from various rooms throughout the district also will be done. 

The projects will be paid for by bond money from a $21.5 million package established in 2017.

Vestibule plans for the four elementary schools will be done one school at a time, each year, starting in 2020.

Rock Falls High School

The biggest project at Rock Falls High School is the expansion and resurfacing of Bruce McDonald Track at Hinders Field.

The track will expand from six to eight lanes, new warning tracks for the baseball and softball diamonds are being installed, and jumping pits are being redone for $350,000, Buildings and Grounds Director Bryan Berogan said. Civil Constructors of Freeport is doing the work.

The main wing of the school will be 98 years old when the school year begins, but it is aging well. New cabinets in the art room, new ceilings in two rooms and the third-floor hallway are being done, Berogan said.

Rock Falls Elementary

Superintendent Dan Arickx said that work four of the district’s five schools should cost less than $100,000. 

This includes a $18,000 generator installation this month at Merrill; $25,000 in window replacements at Thome and a front entrance vestibule at Riverdale for $20,000, both to be completed by July; and concrete replacement near the Dillon playground at $25,000 by August.

Arickx said that multiple smaller projects also are underway.


Plumbing has been a problem at Montmorency, and water supply lines will be replaced at $148,000 by Aug. 1.

“Our old pipes have deteriorated to the point that we are having leaks,” Superintendent Alex Moore said. 


More than $6.5 million in major renovations also are underway at Milledgeville High School.

It includes the replacement of all 148 windows; remodels of classrooms, the main office and the library; an elevator; new geothermal heating and air conditioning for the entire building, doors, flooring and dropped ceilings; and electrical equipment upgrades.

Superintendent Tim Schurman said that the projects won’t be completed until Aug. 23, and it will delay the start of school until Aug. 29.


Voters in the Amboy school district passed a referendum in November to upgrade the high school and attach a gym and junior high wing to it for $16.3 million. 

Construction will take about 2 years. 

The school will expand by about 54,000 square feet to include a new gym, library, front entrance, and 20 classrooms among two stories on space currently occupied by a greenhouse, which may be replaced.

Replacement of unit ventilators in the library, water pipes, and asbestos tile and insulation abatement and removal is on tap at Central Elementary. 

Superintendent Joshua Nichols said that the district is in the process of issuing sales tax bonds to pay for the work at Central.


Morrison schools hope to have two projects at the high school, and one at Northside Elementary, done by Aug. 1.

High school replacements include $1,170,000 in window replacement work, and $32,450 to retile floors.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at Northside will cost $550,000.

River Bend

More than $3 million will be used for projects at Fulton’s three schools. 

The office at the elementary school will be relocated, with a vestibule added to it, and the old office will be converted into small classrooms. 

Two science classrooms and an art room are being remodeled at the middle school, and home economics upgrades and heating and air conditioning to 12 classrooms is in the works at the high school.

In addition, $140,000 is being spent on a new track surface at the high school, and $58,000 will go toward the blacktopping of the district’s bus garage.

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