Constructing the future

District construction projects continue full-force through Pandemic


Photo by Alex Ketcham

The construction of the new May Whitney Elementary building continued this summer and stands on track to be completed for Fall 2021. May Whitney, Seth Paine, and Sarah Adams were the major construction projects in the district this summer and all persevered through Covid-19.

Alex Ketcham, Sports Editor

Although the 2020-2021 school year kicked off with most of the district buildings void of students, they will still need to be ready for when students do return later this fall.

Many of the projects that were promised through the passing of the 2019 District Referendum were set to be completed this summer, such as the renovations to Seth Paine Elementary and Sarah Adams Elementary, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic did not interfere with that promise. The reconstruction of the new May Whitney Elementary also continued work this summer and is set to be completed this upcoming Winter.

“Both [the Seth Paine and Sarah Adams projects ] are in line and fulfilling promises that were made to the community of Lake Zurich, and Hawthorn Woods as when we went out for the referendum,” Lyle Erstad, District Director of Facilities and Grounds, said.

For the renovations to Seth Paine and Sarah Adams, the installation of air conditioning systems was on the agenda, and these construction projects are “ revitalizing the schools, not only from a temperature control perspective but they’re going to be energy efficient, and they’re going to be providing some exciting new spaces for the education of students,” Erstad said.

For these two elementary schools, important renovations had to be made to provide for all students, Erstad said. For Seth Paine in particular, there was no elevator in the building at all, leaving students, faculty, and other staff with disabilities no way to conveniently move up and down floors. Therefore, Seth Paine received an addition this summer to provide accessibility for all students.

“Prior to this, the cafeteria was in the basement of Seth Paine, with no elevator access for anyone who might have had a disability of that nature they would have either had to have been carried down, or they ate their lunch in the front office,” Erstad said.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic affected the in-person classes in the Spring, the pandemic led to no major roadblocks when it came to the completion of these projects, according to Vicki Cullinan, Assistant Superintendent of Business/Operations. In fact, the time students spent outside of the classroom gave the facilities team more time to complete the projects, Cullinan said.

“[The schools shutting down] was a plus and a minus as we got a little bit of a head start because the kids weren’t actively in school,” Cullinan said. “We did have a couple of supply chain issues that ended up resolving themselves. We had some things manufactured in places that had to shut down,  so we had concerns but we were able to make up that time and have it worked out.”

Even though most students will not be able to be on campus immediately for the first weeks of the year, the facilities staff is extremely excited for the students to be able to reap the benefits of these projects, according to Cullinan.

“I’m so disappointed that our students and families can’t enjoy these great renovated spaces right away because we’re not going to be in person right away,  but hopefully we’ll be in person in the not too distant future,” Cullinan said.