On time and under budget is the No. 1 and No. 2 goals of any construction or renovation project and the Pekin Community School District basically hit both of those with the completion of their recent upgrade to their facilities.
“In the fall of 2016 our Board of Directors talked about improving the facilities at Pekin,” explained Superintendant Dave Harper. “That morphed into more identifiable and safe entrances, upgraded locker rooms, a new boiler system along with six classrooms for the seventh and eighth graders to be moved to the high school which makes better use of their staff resources and cut down travel time for the students.”
Harper also said that the shift in spaces allows the Kindergarten through six graders to spread out a little bit with the seventh and eighth graders now in their own wing of the high school.
One of the six new classrooms is now a secondary art room dedicated to the junior high and high school students which saves them from having to go to the elementary as they did before.
Along with classrooms that teach art, math, english, social studies, science and special education, there are upgraded labs for science and family consumer sciences and an office area as well for the middle school staff.
“It was designed to align our staff better and reduce our general funds budgets and demands and better utilize the staff and students time,” added Harper.
“Now that it’s K-6 and 7-12, the benefits are less travel time and less traffic with big bodies and little bodies trying to get around each other.”
Both buildings have a vestibule where people can get out of the weather but still need buzzed into the facility and the entrances themselves are more identifiable and secure with a clear line of site now from the office to the doors.
“We can now compartmentalize the building during a lock down situation,” said Harper who reminded everyone that they are a lock down facility any ways.
Pekin’s buildings were always up to code, but it’s a 1960 built high school and the elementary was built in 1978 with out a remodel for either over the years.
“We wanted to give the kids a better environment to live in and better facilities and thanks to the board of directors and the community who supported the bond issue, that’s what we have for future generations of Pekin Panthers.” said Harper.
“We nixed a study hall/additional room to stay under budget, but added an upgrade to the lagoon and pump system,” explained Harper.
They also now they see they need the high school office upgraded for line of site although they do have cameras to identify visitors.
They are also looking how they can configure their old middle school wing to better suite the K-6 students and that will involve moving some walls and things around.
“We are extremely happy and have had bumps and hiccups with tile issues and things back ordered and originally all the new entrances should have been complete by August,” said Harper. “But things happen and we are happy with what we have in place.”
There are still some little things being finalized such as doors put on and trim finished but they are 98-percent done otherwise.
The bond issue was 5.5 million plus $500,000 in sales tax and $500,000 they can apply for from pebble and sales tax money if needed.
They are at budget other than lagoon which put them over the six million ear marked, but they will use additional sales tax money to help cover those but are “sitting really well and we have money left in the bank to finish small projects.” according to Harper.
If anyone wants a tour, contact Superintendant Harper and he’d love to show you their new facilities.