District 87 school board members were treated at their regular meeting on Wednesday night to a parade of students and educators who came to thank them for completion of two of the biggest renovations Bloomington High School has seen in years.
BHS installed field turf at Fred Carlton Field, essentially converting the football field into a multi-use complex that it shares with soccer and physical education classes. The school also recently completed its new fine arts addition.
The two projects cost an estimated $8 million.
“You didn’t only make an investment in our facilities, you’ve made a lifetime investment in our kids and our kids’ passions,” Director of Bands Max Chernik told the board. “You are going to see that throughout this year and for years to come.”
The growing band and orchestra programs at BHS had been in cramped quarters for years.
The field turf paid dividends at the first varsity football game it hosted last Friday as players were able to maneuver on the new surface with little difficulty.
Mark Marshall, a lineman on the football team and trombonist for the Marching Raiders, said he can appreciate the value of the more durable surface.
“Playing football when there’s puddles you can work with that, but in band, puddles are terrible, that’s the worst thing that can happen,” Marshall said. “Having that new field is awesome.”
Quarterback Griffin Moore said the football team hopes to show its gratitude on the scoreboard.
“We are very grateful for it,” Moore said. “It’s something we use as motivation to get more wins to kind of pay back to them everything they have done for us,” Moore said.
District 87 Chief Financial and Facilities Officer Colin Manahan said those two projects, along with close to a dozen others, made this the most “aggressive” summer for renovations in his 21 years with the district.
Manahan said it helped that construction crews could start on the new fine arts wing during spring break because it didn’t impact classroom space.
“The significance of the project is building a band room that’s approximately 12,000 square feet in 17 weeks, that’s unheard of,” Manahan said. “If you do this out in the commercial world, that’s a year (long) project.”
Manahan added none of the renovation projects impacted the start of the school year.
BHS plans to formally dedicate the new fine arts addition at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Manahan provided the district with a list of other improvements the district made over the last year:
- Bloomington Area Career Center nursing program improvements and technology program upgrades
- Bloomington Junior High School classroom and hallway repairs
- Bloomington High School technology renovations
- Irving Elementary new handicap-accessible entrance
- Oakland Elementary playground improvements (done by City of Bloomington)
- Raymond Elementary elevator and fencing repairs
- Sheridan Elementary new windows
- Washington Elementary hallway carpet replacement
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