District 186 prepares for school improvement projects

Numerous public schools in the Springfield area will soon receive needed upgrades as part of a School District 186 initiative to create better facilities and more secure learning environments while addressing needed maintenance and life/safety issues.

A total of $40.9 million worth of work on schools is currently in the design phase, and it is a direct result of the recent one percent sales tax referendum, according to District 186 superintendent Jennifer Gill.        

“We’re grateful to the community for making these projects possible through the use of sales tax revenue that voters approved in November 2018,” Gill said. “We’re excited to begin the design phase with local and regional architects and eager to check off some vital security and safety improvements in the immediate future.”

District 186 hopes to break ground this summer on the current round of projects, Gill said, and most of the work can be done while school is in session.  Another round of project design selections will be made this spring.

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“We will continue to look to our families and school communities as we have done all along throughout this process,” Gill said. “Their input is crucial as blueprints are drawn, shovels break ground and our preferred future comes to life.”

The Springfield Education Association, the union representing District 186 employees, is looking forward to the positive change the improvements will bring.   

“We are excited about the improved safety that it will provide for kids and for our members, and the increase in educational opportunities that a larger, more modern, safer environment will provide,” said Aaron Graves, Springfield Education Association president. “At the same time, we have a lot of unique types of professionals working with kids and we want to make sure their space needs are also kept in mind during this process.”