Construction On Dr. Howard Elementary Moves Ahead

A rendering of a collaboration space at the new Dr. Howard Elementary School.

A rendering of a collaboration space at the new Dr. Howard Elementary School.

Champaign Unit 4 School District

A new Dr. Howard Elementary school is one step closer to completion. The Champaign Unit 4 school district will begin demolishing three remaining houses on the site to make way for the new school building this week, according to Sandra Roesler, capital projects manager for Unit 4 schools. 

The roughly $18 million project is one of several funded through a 2016 referendum. Roesler said the new school building will replace a century-old structure with several additions added over the years that was in poor shape and posed a hazard to health and safety.

The new building is scheduled to be completed August 2020. In the meantime, Dr. Howard students and teachers will continue to use the Columbia Center in Champaign as their temporary school building.

Roesler said the new building will also include something that the old structure lacked: Collaborative learning spaces.

“The new Dr. Howard is going to have spaces adjacent to the classroom that all grade level teachers can use together so the third grade teacher can collaborate with her colleagues and do group activities right adjacent to the classroom,” she said. Roesler added that the space will resemble the structure of the Carrie Busey Elementary School.

She said the new school building will also include space for an additional Kindergarten and first grade classroom, which will allow for an enrollment increase of 50 students.

Increasing enrollment capacity at the school is a top priority for the district, Roesler said.

She said there’s room for Champaign’s high schools to expand their footprint to accommodate more students, “but at the elementary school level the projects in the referendum don’t allow that. Dr. Howard was that one standalone opportunity.”

Roesler said Dr. Howard was the only site where they could actually create a bigger building.

While construction on Dr. Howard is ongoing, the school district will also complete work on the West Washington Watershed project on behalf of the city of Champaign, Roesler said.

Other construction projects in the works for Unit 4 include addition and renovation projects at Southside Elementary, Central and Centennial High Schools, as well as work on Spalding Park, which will be used by Central High School and Franklin Middle School.

Story source: WILL