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Plans For Fine Arts Addition To BHS And Turf Field Advance


District 87 Schools are planning a fine arts addition to Bloomington High School.

This will allow construction of a new band room, renovation of the old band room into the new orchestra room, refresh the chorus room, and create a kind of fine arts annex, since the drama area and the auditorium are nearby.

Architect Russell Francois will share his concepts for the addition with the school board and public at the second board meeting in May.

District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said some debt is due to be retired, allowing for building fund expenditure. The district would also lower its levy in the life safety fund. Combined, Reilly said, the two moves would allow financing of the expansion without a tax rate change.

The plan also calls for making the football field astroturf. Reilly said this will allow far more use of the field including for soccer, without the worry of tearing up sod or overusing the field in wet conditions. This would not be a money saving move. The initial $1 million investment in turf includes a base layer that would not need to be replaced later. The lifespan of a turf field is 10-12 years, according to Reilly. In that time expenses on a sod field amount to perhaps $300,000 to $400,000 in fertilizing, maintenance, seeding, mowing, and other refinements, said Reilly. Reilly said that is about the same amount replacing the turf would cost after the initial investment.

The need for the entire $7.5 million dollar expenditure adding to the east side of BHS has its roots in a decision five years ago, according to Reilly

Music teachers suggested busing 5th grade kids to the junior high for band and orchestra lessons every weekday. Before that, Reilly said they had to meet in inadequate spaces at inadequate times.

This has created more regular instruction, teaching in large groups and in sectional groups of instruments, and even allowed some individual instruction. Reilly said the move has created a good problem, growing numbers.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.