The Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education has given its architect authorization to develop plans to build an elevator at L.J Hauser Junior High School next year. 

The cost of installing an elevator is estimated to be between $400,000 and $500,000 said David Sellers, the interim director of finance and operations at District 96. 

Parents of students with special needs have been pushing for an elevator for years. During the planning of the renovation that was completed at Hauser in 2012, an elevator was considered but rejected as too costly. However, installing an elevator at Hauser has become important to this school board.

“I think everyone on the board believes in the importance of the elevator,” said District 96 school board President Jeff Miller. “I think that’s one of the priorities of everyone on the board.”

The elevator will probably be located in the north portion of the building near the library and conference room on the first floor. In addition to taking the space now occupied by the conference room, an elevator would reduce the size of two large classrooms on the second and third floors. 

Building an elevator shaft and installing the elevator will take several months to complete, so if the board opts to begin work next summer, the project likely won’t be finished until a few weeks into the 2016-17 school year.

The elevator would be large enough to hold a hospital sized gurney, Sellers said.

Central/Hauser parking lot resurface planned

The District 96 school board is also planning to repave the parking lot at the Hauser/Central School campus next summer and will consider repaving the parking lot at Hollywood School in Brookfield. 

In addition, the district will also be soliciting bids to replace the windows at Blythe Park School. 

Blythe Park, which was built in 1949, still has its original steel windows. The school has been declared a historic landmark by the village of Riverside, so any changes to the building must be approved by the Riverside Preservation Commission. 

The commission appears willing to give the district some leeway in replacing the windows by allowing the district to use aluminum windows if they do not change the appearance of the building.

“At that time most windows were made out of steel, I think,” Miller said. “Aluminum is now more common and is less expensive, so the question is if we replace the windows right now can we find those aluminum windows that would be architecturally correct, that would have the same profile of the steel windows. That needs to be investigated and we need to talk to the Preservation Committee and all of that to figure that out.”

Sellers estimated that it would cost about $600,000 to $700,000 to replace all the windows at Blythe Park.

“Our goal is to have to the appearance of the building be mostly unchanged,” Sellers said.

The school board also has created a Playground Committee, made up of parents and staff, to study the playgrounds at all the district’s schools and recommend improvements. The highest priority is installing new playground equipment at Hollywood School which hosts the district’s preschool and Early Childhood Education program. None of the current equipment at Hollywood is suitable for the two to five year olds that are part of that program. 

The Hollywood playground is on land owned by the Hollywood Community Association, but Association would allow the school district to put in new playground equipment.

Miller said that none of these projects have received final approval yet.

“I don’t think we are 100 percent committed to these projects, but these are the ones that are on the docket right now and, if everything looks good, will probably be bid out,” Miller said. “And then if the bids come back reasonable at that point we’ll make a final decision.”