Urbana School Breaks Ground on Gym, Early Childhood Space

March 16, 2012

A grade school expansion in Urbana is reaping the benefits of a sales tax approved by voters three years ago.

Students and local officials were on hand for a groundbreaking on Friday at Prairie Elementary School for a gymnasium, three fine arts classrooms, and 12 early childhood classrooms.

Prairie Principal Yavonda Smith said physical education classes throughout the day haven't been possible due to space requirements.

"The end project is that students will be able to have a new gym," Smith said. "Having a new gym is that we will able to able have P.E. all day long, without any interruptions. We all know that movement is very important for kids in grades K-5, and so that's why we're going to make sure that we utilize the gym every single day."

District 116 School Board President John Dimit said the expansion will also provide a public entrance, allowing for community events. He said the passage of the school facilities sales tax referendum in 2009 allowed planning to move forward.

"We have to admit the project ended up being a little more expensive than what we thought, and so we worked hard to put the financing package together, and the market treated us right, because the interest rates are low," Dimit said.

Early total estimates for the project are around $15 million. Construction for the new space will take about a year and a half.

(Photo by Jeff Bossert/WILL)

Story source: WILL