District 186 shows off new classrooms and cafeterias. Here's where school upgrades stand

When students arrive for the first day of school Monday, many will be greeted by freshly constructed classrooms, cafeterias, and libraries. The sound of construction work will welcome others.

Springfield Public Schools District 186 officials showed off a sample of construction projects taking place across the district. Community leaders including Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Mike Murphy and Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance President/CEO Ryan McCrady joined Superintendent Jennifer Gill, other district officials, and school board members Saturday to tour four schools -- Black Hawk and Fairview elementary schools, Franklin Middle School and Southeast High School -- where work was completed.

Crews are applying finishing touches at some schools with ongoing renovations taking place at other buildings, such as Lanphier High School, which is undergoing a near-total overhaul as part of a $93.2 million renovation project.

Here is a look at the work being completed with details on what's next for the district, all made possible by a sales tax referendum voters approved in 2018:

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What has been completed

The district has completed roof projects for a group of schools – Addams and Feitshans elementary schools, Ball Charter School, Springfield High School, Douglas Alternative School and the Early Learning Center.

Addams also received an updated secure entry system, along with Lee, McClernand, and Ridgely elementary schools.

Lindsay Elementary received a new HVAC system and a new secure entryway. Butler, Dubois and Southern View all received new HVAC controllers in addition to other upgrades listed below.

Those projects only scratch the surface of the upgrades being made for the district's buildings. Here's what's being planned for several buildings during this first phase of construction:

Black Hawk Elementary School, 2500 S. College St.

Work completed: Black Hawk added a new secure entry and expanded their office space, along with eliminating two modular classrooms with a new set of rooms designed for art, physical education classes, resource rooms and kindergarten classes.

A new library was also included as part of the renovations.

What's left to complete: Seeding of grass in front of the new entrance is still a necessity, with a patch of dirt awaiting students and staff on Monday. Work on the $3 million project is slated to be completed in September.

What they have to say: Principal Stephanie McCorkle said the additions provide much-needed space for staff to work and collaborate, along with providing an open space for students and parents to view as they come in every morning. In addition, the new space will also provide more room for specialists to perform their jobs, as they had been shunted into the modular rooms in the prior setup.

"We have to share our specialist teachers with three other schools," McCorkle said. "Our art and music teachers are only here for a day (each week), so when someone's not in the building for a time, sometimes it's hard to feel like an integrated part of the family. Now that they're in the building, we'll be able to do that a lot better where we feel like we're inviting our staff into the building a lot more."

Butler Elementary School, 1701 S. MacArthur Blvd.

Work underway: Significant upgrades for the historic school along MacArthur Boulevard will include a new northern wing of the building, set to replace three modular classrooms with new foreign language, art and music classrooms along with a new resource room and reading areas.

Butler also received a new secure entry, with an expanded office and new elevators.

What's left to complete: Construction should be finished in the fall on the addition, which was budgeted at about $3.4 million.

Dubois Elementary School, 120 S. Lincoln Ave.

Work underway: Dubois will receive a new addition on the east side of the building, with new second- and third-grade classrooms, a new secure entryway with an expanded office and a new elevator and chair lifts for accessibility.

What's left to complete: The school is also installing a new driveway along the south side of the building, with space for staff and guest parking. Work is slated for completion in the fall on the project.

Fairview Elementary School, 2200 Ridgely Ave.

Work completed: Fairview saw new classroom additions, with new library, art and music spaces in addition to an expanded office and a new secure entry. The new classrooms helped to eliminate both of the school's modular classrooms.

What's left to complete: A large section of dirt will greet staff parking in the main parking lot of the school on Monday, with seeding yet to be completed in that section. The $3.2 million project will see completion by the end of September.

What they had to say: Principal Patricia Nixson said that they were skeptical that they could pull of such a plan, but found the nearly-finished product to be impressive, with the ability to have everything in one space without the need for a mobile room.

"To be able to bring everybody into one building and not have to go outside is truly bringing our Fairview family together," Nixson said. "I'm happy to have space, room and a secure entrance."

Franklin Middle School, 1200 Outer Park Drive

Work completed: A new cafeteria space is part of a west addition to the building, with new classrooms for social studies, foreign language and special needs classes included. New space for nurses and bathrooms are also a part of the project, which took out three modular classrooms.

What's left to complete: Play equipment is still missing from the outside space south of the new addition, which was also repaved to add new parking and drop-off areas. The large lawn in front of the school also needs some seeding, which is scheduled to come by the end of September.

What they had to say: Principal Tod Davis said the $4.2 million addition provides a significant upgrade for the school, with new technology and new features making it a modern structure worth celebrating.

"It's just outstanding," Davis said. "We are very happy that the mobiles are gone."

Grant Middle School, 1800 W. Monroe St.

Work completed: Grant, like Franklin, saw an upgrade in their cafeteria space, along with upgrades to its secure entry, new elevators and a new math classroom that will help replace one modular building.

What's left to complete: Not much else, as the building should be ready to go by the start of school.

Jefferson Middle School, 3001 Allis St.

Work underway: Jefferson also gets a bigger cafeteria with several new classroom spaces, including new rooms for language arts, speech and special needs teachers. The redesign also includes a brand new radial staircase and new elevators and chair lifts for accessibility.

What's left to complete: Supply chain issues have made the final preparations for the new spaces trickier, with district facilities director Mike Grossen saying that completion of the project was pushed back into October as a result. The cafeteria is good to go for the first day, however.

Lanphier High School, 1300 N. 11th St.

Work underway: Construction crews are busy working on a near-total reconstruction of the historic northside high school, with the $93.2 million project allowing for new classrooms and learning labs, a state-of-the-art commons, a 2,000 seat fieldhouse/gym, an e-sports area and space for vocational and construction trades.

Memorial Stadium will get new surfacing, seating, and track, prompting the move of Springfield and Lanphier football games to Southeast for at least the 2022 season.

What's left to be completed: The stadium and facility upgrades won't be ready until 2023 at the earliest, with Grossen noting that parts could be open by the spring if all goes well with supply chain issues.

Sandburg Elementary School, 2051 Wabash Ave.

Work underway: New office space will accentuate a series of additions at Sandburg, including new music, art, foreign language, speech, special needs and fifth-grade classrooms. The classrooms will replace two modular classrooms, along with upgrades to the secure entry.

What's left to complete: A new canopy at the front of the school, topped with a new sign, will adorn the building, which should be ready this fall.

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Southeast High School, 2350 E. Ash St.

Work completed: The first step in a significant renovation of Southeast was completed last week with the opening of a $2.5 million auditorium. Built for modern specifications, the auditorium has new seating and state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment perfect for any production.

What's left to complete: Bigger plans are underway for the school, with a $20-30 million fieldhouse coming in future years that will house a variety of indoor sports and activities for all of the high schools in the district. Design work for the project will be provided to the district at some point in the school year.

What they had to say: Southeast Principal Cody Trigg said despite being ready for practical use, there were still some finishing touches on the facility that needed to be added.

"We're still waiting on some curtains (and) some spotlights," Trigg said. "Our theatre speakers are still on the way thanks to our supply chain (issues)."

Washington Middle School, 2300 E. Jackson St.

Work completed: Washington has a new cafeteria, along with new health, language arts, foreign language, art and special education classrooms replacing three modular facilities. Secure entry upgrades are also part of the plan, with new conference rooms and speech rooms being built as well.

What's left to complete: Grossen said facilities will likely be ready by Labor Day. The new cafeteria will be ready to serve students on the first day of school.

What's next?

Following the completion of Phase 1, more ambitious steps are likely for the district in the coming years, with an overhaul of Springfield High School, a new elementary school combining Hazel Dell and Laketown elementary schools, and reconstruction of Owen Marsh Elementary School.

Planning and design work is likely to begin in the next year, but completion of those projects won't come until 2024 at the earliest. The new SHS may not be complete until 2027.

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Springfield Public School District 186 shows off building upgrades