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DANVILLE — A lot of building projects regularly go on around Danville District 118 schools, not just in the summer months when students are gone, but year-round and include many items that people don’t see.
“Most of the things that have been done are mechanical things,” said D118 Buildings and Grounds Director Skip Truex about the last year. “(We’re) trying to do as much infrastructure as we can as far as plumbing, heating and air conditioning, hot water boilers, that sort of thing.”
For new heating and air conditioning at Liberty Elementary School, they ordered units in January, were told the units would be in in April, but now the HVAC equipment might not be delivered until November, Truex said.
Liberty also saw a new playground last year and a new east-side playground this summer.
“They’re very nice. We fenced this one in. It keeps the kids from taking off and we have to eliminate a lot of foot traffic,” Truex said about the playgrounds. “We did the same thing at Edison (Elementary School) because there’s a lot of foot traffic that comes through our playgrounds while students are out there and it’s not always a safe thing.”
The school district also has finished new boilers and a chiller at Southwest Elementary School, and all new controls for the building to make it more efficient.
At Edison Elementary School they did some recarpeting and remodeling of some areas, some fencing around the building and remediation of some water infiltration that was coming into the basement.
“A lot of the work is taking place at Danville High School,” Truex said about projects in general.
They redid the whole surface last year of the floor in the DHS fieldhouse, new lighting and painting in the gym and some other remodeling of the dean’s office and career and technical education and classrooms.
A lot of large DHS projects are coming up for the track resurface, 1972 building addition remodel, bleacher replacement behind the high school and redoing the tunnels, and the food science lab is about 90 percent completed.
The DHS auditorium is waiting for a new sound board.
“Ninety percent of the auditorium is complete,” Truex said of the rigging system, lighting and sound improvements.
New seating, side curtains and some other additional improvements will come next.
The new chiller and all the new boilers are completed at DHS.
The Southern Illinois Healthcare clinic inside DHS is working on staffing for students to use it this school year.
“We’re always doing various maintenance projects around the district. It’s constant. We no longer have summer lists where we’re going to get this done in the summer. We don’t have enough time in the summer with summer school and all of the other activities that take place throughout those months,” Truex said.
“Our construction and our maintenance and our actual work is year-round now. We don’t have a big boom in the summertime anymore; it’s kind of year long,” he said of school building projects.
At South View Upper Elementary School, they were still waiting on some HVAC equipment. There is a temporary air conditioner for the cafetorium and temporary cooling for some offices, but all the classrooms have the new HVAC systems in them and they’re working. This project likely won’t be completed until next late spring or early summer.
Supply chain issues still are causing challenges.
“It’s tough to get stuff right now,” Truex said.
School district officials are still putting plans together to seek bids for the Kenneth D. Bailey Academy and Northeast Elementary Magnet School building remodels and additions.
Truex said he’s going to pre-order HVAC equipment this fall for North Ridge Middle School and Mark Denman Elementary School to have the equipment by next June.
They also have their general ongoing maintenance all the time, he added. The staff is upgrading lighting; remodeling, painting and doing electrical work in the DHS cafeteria; and also working on a new teachers’ lounge area.
“It’s just ongoing stuff as far as building maintenance, roofs, walls, tuckpointing, playgrounds, mechanical equipment, building repairs. It just doesn’t stop,” he said.
The former Garfield Elementary School is in a transition period of no longer being a school. The homelessness liaisons are using the building, information technology will have a room in it, a food bank is planned, building and grounds is using it to stage some equipment, and there’s a curriculum room.
“We’re really using that building. It’s still super important to the district,” Truex said.
Topsoil had been spread and they planted grass at the former Cannon Elementary School site, after the building’s demolition.
The future use of the lot, such as for a community garden or other ideas, is still undecided.
The D118 buildings and grounds department is in charge of physical security for the district too.
The school district is trying to make secure entrances in all its buildings, including with the remodel and building addition plans for KDBA and Northeast, Truex said.
“I’m also building both gymnasiums as independent storm shelters too,” Truex said. “We need to make the buildings secure. We need to keep the staff and students safe. We’ll be making some changes at Meade Park and Liberty soon on the entryways,” he said.
There will be new two-step, buzz-in processes for visitors to enter the schools.
“Safety is an ongoing thing. We’re constantly adding door alarms, we’re constantly upgrading our systems, we’re constantly adding cameras,” Truex said.