LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — Enhanced security provisions at Lake Forest School District 67’s four campuses will provide heavier scrutiny of visitors entering the buildings.
The improved security and a renovated library at Deer Path Middle School are the $5.4 million piece of more than $7.2 million worth of work going on this summer in District 67, Lake Bluff School District 65 and Lake Forest High School in preparation of the 2017-18 term.
Currently, visitors to Deer Path, Sheridan, Everett or Cherokee Elementary Schools walk into the main office, where their identification cards are checked to make sure they are not on a sex offender registry. Then they can enter the main part of the building, according to Mike Simeck, superintendent of both District 67 and Lake Forest High School.
Once the renovation work is done, Simeck said getting into the academic part of the buildings will be a three-step process. The visitor will walk up to a window outside the main office, where school personnel will get a waist-up view. Then they will be buzzed into the main office, where the ID check will take place before they are allowed to go into the main part of the structure.
“If they see something that gives them concern they won’t be buzzed in,” said Simeck of the first check point. “They get another good look when they check the (driver’s) license. There will be no way they can enter the building without entering the office first.”
All of the vestibules and main offices will be refitted to accommodate the new security procedures. Strong shatter-proof glass is also being installed. Simeck said it will make it very hard for people to get into any of the buildings without being screened. If there is a concern, help is nearby.
Help Is Always Close
“There is a school resource officer at Deer Path most of the time,” said Simeck. “At the other schools the police are only minutes away.”
Renovations at the Haskins media center used by the seventh and eighth graders at Deer Path are another major part of the $5.4 million project, according to Simeck. It used to be known as the library, but he said it is now much more. He calls it a media center. The library in the fifth and sixth grade wing was redone five years ago.
“It became the most popular room in the school,” said Simeck. “Students come in early. They want to be there to do their work. We’re doing the same thing at the Haskins.”
With 11,500 square feet, the Haskins has plenty of room making it a ripe spot to redo. Simeck said there will be flexible seating and flexible classroom space for larger projects. There will be places to make videos and makers space. It accommodates students who work alone or collaborate together.
“Most work today is done collaboratively,” said Simeck. “Synergistic energy helps people share ideas so everyone learns more. If a kid is not doing the work they are not learning.”
Along with everything new, Simeck said there will still be books to check out.
Nurses Offices Get a Facelift
Another part of the $5.4 million project involves redoing nurse’s offices, making them completely wheel chair accessible. Simeck said they will all have bathrooms so students visiting the nurse do not need to walk down the hall.
Simeck said another $716,445 is being spent in District 67 on a new roof at Deer Path for $315,000, repaving the driveways at Cherokee for $88,445 and $313,000 for a new playground at Sheridan.
Simeck said much of the expense at Sheridan arises from drainage issues. There is an 11-foot drop from the back of the playground to the front. Part of the expense—$90,000—is covered by a Spirit of 67 grant.
Work at Lake Forest High School totaling just over $1 million includes $450,000 for rigging of the new theater, $390,000 for paving the parking lot and tennis courts at the west campus, and a new roof at the east campus for $202,000, according to Simeck.
In Lake Bluff, Director of Finance and Operations Jay Kahn said the district is spending approximately $200,000 this summer on smaller projects after the large scale remake of Lake Bluff Middle School.
Kahn said the money will be spent adding walls and partitions to two classrooms at Lake Bluff Elementary School to add flexibility as well as a mother’s room for nursing.
At the middle school, Kahn said, classrooms and hallways not yet using LED lighting will be converted, old window shades will be replaced, acoustic wall treatments will be added to the library, cafeteria and art room and there will be some modifications in the science labs.