Spring break is coming into view for students and staff at Komarek School in North Riverside, starting when the final bell rings on the afternoon of March 25.
But for many teachers, administrators and other staff it’s going to be a very busy week, because District 94 will use that time to move everything out of the old west building and into the new west addition, signaling the start of phase two of construction.
On Monday, March 28 movers will begin hauling furniture and equipment out of the old west building so that by the time classes resume on April 4, all students and staff comprising kindergarten through third-grade will be in the new addition.
“There’s no getting away this spring break,” said Supt. Todd Fitzgerald, “but it’ll be worth it.”
During the March 8 meeting of the Komarek School Board of Education, Fitzgerald told elected officials that workers are still finishing up baseboards, drop ceilings and carpeting, but that the roughly $22 million project is on schedule for the spring break move.
“Overall things are looking really good,” he said.
In addition to kindergarten through third grade classes moving to the new building, other staff including the speech pathologist, a social worker, the school’s art teacher, math and reading interventionists, the Komarek School office staff, nurse and business manager will also move into the new addition for April and May. Students will be able to use the new cafeteria for lunch.
Clearing out the old west building clears the way for the next phase of the expansion/renovation project, which includes asbestos abatement in the old west building and that structure’s complete renovation.
That work is expected to be complete by the end of summer so that all students and staff will be in their new permanent homes on the west side of 13th Avenue when the 2022-23 school year begins.
According to Fitzgerald, when school starts in fall classrooms will be grouped in the following way: Pre-kindergarten through third grade will be located on the first floor of the renovated west building, with fifth grade on the second floor of the renovated building.
Third and fourth grades will be located on the first floor of the new west addition, with sixth, seventh and eighth grades grouped in a middle school wing on the second floor of the new addition. Art and science rooms will also be located in the new addition.
Fitzgerald said school officials are coordinating with the district’s general contractor, Nicholas and Associates, and its architect, Arcon Associates Inc., to host a community open house for the new west addition sometime in April, probably on a Saturday. The date has yet to be confirmed.
In order to ensure Nicholas and Associates has as much time as possible to complete the renovation of the old west building in time for the 2022-23 school year, the District 94 school board voted unanimously last week to start school on Aug. 31.
The downside to the late start, Fitzgerald said, was a later end to the school year in 2023, which will be June 13.
“We feel Aug. 31 will give us time to move into the new building and be ready to accept our students toward the end of that month,” Fitzgerald told school board members. “I expect the start date will shift back to mid-August and the end to late May/early June once the project is completed.”
Phases three and four of the project will focus on the east side of the Komarek School campus, with asbestos abatement and demolition of part of the old east building taking place next fall. Construction on the new gymnasium and parking lot will begin in late fall/early winter with all of the work wrapped up in time for the 2023-24 school year.