When Pekin Community High School students return in the fall for a new school year in the fall of 2023, they should come back to a renovated campus.

“We’ve got a busy summer planned,” said Danielle Owens, superintendent of Pekin Community High School District 303.

New canopy entrance

According to Owens, various contractors will renovate the school’s canopied entrance, add an entrance vestibule as a security measure, and remodel several offices.

“The canopy entrance is our main student entrance,” she said. “It's a focal point of our campus and every person that comes to campus comes through those doors. It was important for us to redo it because of a safety issue.

"Right now, there's one set of doors, so once you’re buzzed in, you have access to the whole campus. There will be a vestibule, which we feel is a safer way to do student entry. It's kind of another checkpoint.”

As a focal point of Pekin Community High School's campus, the canopied entrance is also a focal point on an ambitious slate of renovations planned for this summer

What other projects are planned?

Other planned projects include replacing several roofs, remodeling the Hawkins Gym floor and replacing the original wooden bleachers with plastic seats, renovating the school’s weight room and fitness area, and improving the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system.

“We had a lot of HVAC work planned pre-COVID and then COVID hit;” Owens said. “Just like every other school and municipality around us, we were given a lot of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds, or what people call ‘COVID money.’ The only thing you can really use ESSER funds for in terms of construction is HVAC work, so we had already set up funds aside to do all of that.”

What will it cost?

Owens estimated that the renovations will cost about $10.7 million. State-distributed Health and Life Safety funds will apply for such projects as roof replacements and new Hawkins Gym bleachers, accounting for $4 million of the price tag. The remainder will come from District 303 funds.

“We're pretty proud of the fact that we were in a position to take advantage of funding that came our way to do these projects without impacting the community,” she said.  “I think it's going to be a source of pride for the community with the way the building will look and the way the campus has been renovated.”