Mobile units give Churchill School breathing room during building updates

District 153 took the first step toward building improvements at the Monday, June 10, school board meeting by agreeing to acquire four mobile units to give Churchill School some extra breathing room.
The board agreed to a three-year lease for the units that will be installed on a blacktop pad on the north side of the building. The units will have bathrooms. 
Churchill serves 675 students. It has nine classes each of third, four and fifth graders. All classes will be conducted in the school building. The mobile units will be used for special services, said Principal Nikki Kerr. 
The administration is in the process of determining if Innovative Modular Solutions will do the full installation, including electrical and plumbing hook-ups, or if district staff or subcontractors will do the work, said District 153 business manager John Gibson.
The board recently received a facilities study from Wight and Company, the district’s architects. In the more than 50-page report, the firm offered information on all electrical, heating/cooling, plumbing systems and everything else facilities related at Willow School, serving kindergarten through second grade, Churchill School, serving third, fourth and fifth grades and James Hart School, serving sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
“Given the age of our buildings, I would say our facilities overall are good,” said board member Alex Bosch, chair of the Finance and Property Committee. “Obviously, there are places that need a lot of improvement, some that are great, but overall things are good.”
Bosch jokingly used the term “vintage” to describe the three buildings. The oldest, a portion of Willow School, dates to the early 1950s. The study will help the board determine if it needs to renovate or add space, or just do improvements in the buildings.
“(The schools) may not look that great to some because they’re old, and there are probably some areas where we could make our facilities and our environment a little more pleasant to look at and to live in, work in and learn in,” Bosch told a working group at a long-range planning review session conducted before the regular board meeting.
Fellow committee member Ron Zinnerman said the schools “need to be attractive not only for families, but also for the talent we want to keep in our schools,” noting teachers have options for positions in other districts. 
Bosch said over the summer months, the committee and District 153 administrators will consider next steps “for our laundry list. How do we address space issues? How do we move from having a gym also serving as a lunch room?” Teachers and staff will also be asked for input. 
“We will spend time trying to figure out what do we do, how do we do it and what timeframe and how do we pay for it, all from the framework that we’re being fiscally responsible,” Bosch said. 
The plan should consider immediate needs but also building work that will be left for future boards, he added.

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