Construction on improvements to George Washington Middle School in Brookfield-Lyons School District 103 will begin in April and continue throughout the summer and into the fall after the school board voted on March 15 to spend $5.5 million on the various aspects of the plan.

Superintendent Michael Warner said work will begin “as soon as possible,” pointing to the district’s spring break in April as the earliest start date. Warner said workers may break ground for the classroom addition in the south wing at that time. He’d also like to see asbestos abatement work in the auditorium area, targeted for a new lunch/multipurpose room, completed this spring.

“We want to do that so we can hit the ground running this summer,” Warner said.

The construction is being funded in part through $3 million in construction bonds the school board has already approved. The rest of the money will be taken from the district’s cash reserves.

According to Warner, even with up to $3 million taken from the cash reserves, the district will have more than $10 million in its fund balance after the construction is completed.

The architect for the improvements is Deerfield-based Green Associates. The general contractor for the work is Nicholas Associates of Mount Prospect.

Construction will take place in three separate areas of the school, which serves sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from Lyons, Stickney, McCook, Forest View and the southeast quarter of Brookfield.

Part of the north end of the school, where the resource room is located now, will be remodeled to house the middle school’s alternative school, which is now housed in a separate building. An entrance canopy will also be placed at the north end of the building.

The alternative school will be moved to the main building and placed near the assistant principal and other administrative offices. The school’s health office is also being relocated to that area. In addition, the two science labs at the north end of the school will be updated to include plumbing.

Meanwhile, on the south wing of the campus, the district is building additional classrooms. Two general education classrooms, an art classroom and the resource area will be located in the south addition. There will also be a classroom for middle school special education students who previously were outplaced.

Driving the decision to bring those students back in-house was the cost to educate them elsewhere, said Warner. Five students outplaced by the district this year at a cost of between $33,000 and $48,000 annually, will be educated on campus beginning next year.

The change will require the district to hire another full-time teacher and aide, “but the net result will be to improve the budget by $110,000 to $115,000 next year,” Warner said. “Construction of that room will be paid for us in less than a year by instituting this program.”

Finally, the auditorium will be remodeled into a new lunch/multipurpose room. Part of this renovation will include an expansion of the building to the east to accommodate a new kitchen. Food deliveries in the future will be made directly to the kitchen via the service drive and will no longer need to be routed through the school hallways.

The small gym, which serves as the school’s lunchroom will be remodeled, and the fold-away lunch tables installed in the walls will be removed. The east parking lot is also slated to be resurfaced.

Warner said he expects the project, with the exception of the lunchroom/multipurpose room, to be completed by the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. The lunchroom/multipurpose should be finished by the end of October, Warner said. Until that time, lunch will be served in the small gym.