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Morton East begins remodeling project

A+diagram+of+the+first+floor+student+service+on+Austin+Blvd.+
A diagram of the first floor student service on Austin Blvd.

A diagram of the first floor student service on Austin Blvd.

Superintendent Truesdale

Superintendent Truesdale

A diagram of the first floor student service on Austin Blvd.

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Did you know that Morton East is being remodeled?

J. Sterling Morton East High school opened on 1894; currently there are about 3,580 students enrolled.  The principal is Jose Gamboa and the superintendent is Tim Truesdale.  Now, 124 years since the school opened, Morton East has plans to renovate the school. The renovation is going to take place within the span of the next 10 years.  The average cost to renovate a high school is $3.34 per square inch. (That may not seem like a lot, but think how big Morton East actually is.)

Superintendent Tim Truesdale answered a few questions regarding the a planned renovation at the East campus.

How much will it cost to renovate the school? Where is the money coming from?

Oh wow… the remodeling of the student services area and adding a second elevator will be around $5 million dollars. The whole building, replacing all the heat and adding cooling, that’s in the neighborhood of $21 million dollars. We get Qualified Construction Bonds to work on the project. We get around $50 million dollars — we do have to pay them back.  With that money, $37 million of it is going to the Freshman Academy at Morton West. The rest of it is for here, as well as budgeting our own funds, so in total with doing all the HVAC is going to be around $17 million dollars, over the course of the next 5 years.

What kind of new things will be added to the school?  

One of the big renovations that will be starting this summer is when visitors come to the building — you know they look for the principal’s office or the counselor’s office.  Well, it’s an inconvenience walking around the school —  and it’s a security issue — so what we’re doing is making an entrance here on the Austin Boulevard side of the school. So, when visitors come through this entrance, the stairs are being removed and the entrance (will be) street level, so it’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.

Why did you decide to remodel the school now? Has this been a plan for a while?  

We knew at some point we were going to be forced to replace the heating system; it’s so old, and it’s a steaming system, so it fails quite often.  That project absolutely must be done. The entrance for the student services has been talked about for a while from a convenience stand point for visitors, and as a security stand point.  But, most of all the modeling of the building:  we’ve been working on a plan called the “master plan,” so if everything was laid out, what would we want it to look like?  That we have been planning for a long time.

Will air conditioning be added?  

We are replacing the boilers, so instead of steam, it’s going to be a hot-cold water system.   That way, when you want to switch to AC, we can cool classrooms as well as heat. It’s going to be a while before we can get that complete, but every summer a number of classrooms will be able to be cooled.

Will it disrupt student’s education? 

I can’t promise there won’t ever be any noise going on.  But, (construction teams will) really work to keep the noise (down) during the scheduled school day; there may be a time when the workers might need half an hour here.  I can’t guarantee there won’t be any noise from time to time — it shouldn’t effect anybody’s ability to teach or learn.

Are you informing parents about the school’s remodeling? 

Yes, we put some information on the district newsletter in February about the renovations. Once school ends and we get started on the work, we’ll have something similar as a “ground breaking” once they start working. We’ll have a ceremony for that.  Mr. Gamboa will put up updates to families on how students might be impacted when school starts in the fall because it won’t be done when you come back. The project for the student service entrance will go on until Christmas break.

What the old main entrance looks like now.

A rendering of the interior entrance after the remodeling.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Morton East begins remodeling project”

  1. Diane Dudzik on May 24th, 2018 11:14 am

    Was there any talk about “Green” solutions to the energy needs of Morton East or the new Freshman addition at West? This would be a great time to be thinking about cutting edge sustainable energy sources, particularly the use of solar panels. Might there be available grants, possibly with the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club or other environmental organizations? J. S. Morton School District could be a leading example for the Community in the use of sustainable energy sources!!

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Morton East begins remodeling project