A small addition is likely coming to Willard School next summer. The River Forest School District 90 Board of Education has given the go ahead to plans to build a small second story addition to the north end of the school. The addition is expected to cost about $1.75 million.

Bid specifications are being prepared and the school board will likely select a general contractor in January. The addition is likely to be about 2,700 square feet in size and will not expand the footprint of the school.

The work will add two full sized classrooms and four smaller learning or office spaces to the school. The new classrooms are expected to be a multipurpose room and a STEM room. The work will be similar in scope to the work done at Lincoln School in 2015 says Anthony Cozzi, District 90’s finance and facilities director.

Currently some Willard services are being delivered in sub optimal conditions, Cozzi said.

“There are different space issues at Willard School that are impacting some of our high-risk children,” Cozzi said.

Special education students are now split into different areas and some children needing additional instruction are being taught in a storage area underneath stairs. The school psychologist meets with students and parents in an open area at the top of the stairs on the second floor that doesn’t provide much privacy. STEM instruction currently takes place in the library, not an ideal situation for activities that require building and collaboration.

“We’re not providing the correct environment for the delivery of instruction,” said Ralph Martire, school board president, at the Oct. 16 school board meeting during which the plan was discussed.

The plan provides a second-floor addition to the north end of the building, which is the only portion of the building without a second floor, and some modifications on the existing first floor.

In a cost saving move the stone cornice around the second story addition will be brick instead of the stone that is around the rest of the building.

At the Oct. 16 meeting board member Rich Moore suggested installing air conditioning in the addition but that may be left for the future. The heating vents will be installed in such a way that air conditioning can be added in the future.

Martire said that with the district facing a projected budget deficit next year he was against including air conditioning in this project.

“I’m reticent to do anything that’s not a must do,” Martire said. “I view this project as a must do. I think we’re substandard and we shouldn’t be substandard. I think air conditioning is an add on.”

Willard school was built in 1927 and current second story was added in 1997.

The second story addition to the north end of the school should solve any space issues at Willard in the foreseeable future Cozzi said.

“The plan we are putting forth solves all the space issues that we see now,” Cozzi said.

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