School Safety

Chicago-Area District Adding Secure Entrances to All Schools

An air conditioning and remodel project in a Chicago-area school district is on track to be finished later this summer, though the start of school will be pushed back a bit to accommodate the work. The latest set of construction projects for Wheeling Community Consolidated School District 21 covers installation of secure entrances at the school system's 13 schools as well as installation of air conditioning systems.

The work is being funded by a district referendum passed by a wide margin (73 percent) in November 2018, when voters approved release of $69 million in bonds to fund renovations over three years. The funds cover enhancements in site security at all of the district's facilities, including reconfiguration of building entrances into three-point secure entrances. Previously, the district said, visitors had to pass through just one or two checkpoints before gaining access to the schools' hallways and classrooms. Other projects covered by the bond include installation of security cameras and improved exterior lighting, as well as air conditioning and the preparation of physical spaces to offer full-day kindergarten district-wide.

The construction manager for the current phase of work is Gilbane Building Company; architecture and engineering is being provided by ARCON Associates.

"Our contractors have an ambitious amount of work to tackle this summer, but I’m happy to report that after one month of active construction, we are currently on time and on budget," said Superintendent Michael Connolly, in a statement. "We will continue to serve as responsible stewards of the community’s resources and appreciate the trust the community showed in us to take on this project."

To accommodate the current slate of construction work, school starts at the district have been delayed until Sept. 3, 2019.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.