Fulton school district begins $3 million facilities upgrades

Winona Whitaker | Clinton Herald4MC Corporation of Argenta, Illinois pours footings for an addition to Fulton Elementary School on Monday. The addition will put the main office at the front door, allowing for greater control over who enters the school and where they go, said River Bend School District Superintendent Darryl Hogue.

FULTON, Ill. — The River Bend School District has about $3 million worth of construction projects in the works this summer, District Superintendent Darryl Hogue said this week.

In February, the board approved Phase III of its construction plan, which will cost the district between $3.4 and $3.7 million. Phase III includes renovation of art and science rooms at Fulton Middle School and building an addition on the front of Fulton Elementary School.

The main office at Fulton Elementary is in the interior of the building, Hogue said, and visitors who are buzzed in can go several directions once inside. The addition will allow the district to move the office to the front entrance of the school “so we have a more secure and safe entry,” Hogue said. “This will provide a clear office entrance” and give staff control over who is in the building and where they can go.

Estimated cost of the project is $557,685 to $618,900, according to CTS Group construction company, which made the recommendation to the school board in February. Changing the former office into classroom space will cost an additional $65,000 to $84,250.

At the middle school, two science rooms and an art room will be remodeled. The art room, which is larger, will become a science room and lab. The current science rooms are simply classrooms, Hogue said, and don’t function as labs.

Following the remodel, the science rooms will be “more science ready,” Hogue said.

One of the science rooms will become the new art room and will be closer to the other eighth-grade classrooms. That’s an unexpected perk, Hogue said.

“[We’re] really doing it to enhance science classrooms and enhance spaces,” he said.

The upgrades include purchases of new furniture and equipment that is more technology oriented and more conducive to group activities that follow problem-based learning models, Hogue said.

The science and art room renovations will cost the district between $754,600 and $835,500, CTS told the school board in February.

At Fulton High School, the foods room will become a culinary arts center. The district will add two kitchens and purchase new stoves and refrigerators, Hogue said. The school will be better able to teach skills that will prepare students for a career in culinary arts.

The high school is adding air conditioning to classrooms bit by bit, Hogue said, “so that we will eventually have a high school that is air conditioned.”

Twelve rooms are scheduled for new heating and cooling units this summer.

The new heating/cooling units for 12 classrooms will cost the district about $602,000. Adding air conditioning to the east gym will cost an additional $288,645.

Air-conditioned classrooms are more conducive environments for learning, Hogue said.

“The learning environment really suffers when it’s extremely warm and cold,” he said.

Air conditioning the gym will mean the school doesn’t have to wipe up condensation from the wood floors during humid August days. A 1% tax for facilities covers the added cost of cooling the buildings, Hogue said.

The district won’t have to find new tax dollars for its construction projects, Hogue said, because half of the cost will be paid from the operating budget for buildings and grounds and half will come from continuing bonds that have been paid off from previous high school and middle school projects.

Other parts of Phase III are a roofing upgrade for the high school at a cost between $83,000 and $93,000 and resurfacing the high school track for $200,000 to $250,000.

School board members Chris Barnett, Mary Simmons, Eric Fish and Jay Ritchie voted in February to approve Phase III; Jane Orman-Luker, Nick Crosthwaite and Dan Portz voted no. Crosthwaite had moved to approve Phase III with the exception of air conditioning the east gym, but the motion died for lack of second.

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.