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Expansion continues at BJHS
Expansion continues at BJHS

BLOOMINGTON — Instead of running up and down musical scales, students are running to and from fitness stations in the choral room at Bloomington Junior High School. Trading spaces and being flexible aren’t a big deal for the teachers and students, who’ve become expert at using space creatively as workers add another 30,000 square feet to the 170,665-square-foot building at 901 N. Colton Ave.

"We have used every single space in this building," said Principal Sue Silvey.

The project addresses overcrowding that has been present for a number of years, said school board President John Dirks. He called it a "prudent plan" to help create the best environment for learning, at the groundbreaking in July.

His son, Peter Dirks, 12, worked at one of the fitness stations last week. "It’s pretty fun," he said. "You get a little bit of everything."

The sixth grader, who also is in chorus, will take his place on the risers when the room is complete.

District 87 taxpayers will not see a tax increase as a result of the project, Superintendent Bob Nielsen said. The district restructured its debt last year, making it possible to carry this and other building improvements throughout the school district.

In the meantime

Physical education students have been displaced from the former multi-purpose room during the $6.35 million expansion and renovation, which includes a new gym. They are temporarily using the new choral room.

It’s hard to tell it’s a choir room: There are no risers, pianos or the traditional trappings of music here. Instead, students step and lift weights at fitness stations and check their heart rates with new digital watches.

"It’s fun being in here. You get a lot of air," said Brittany Davis, 12, a sixth-grade student.

Doug Callahan, 11, a sixth-grade football player, likes the fitness stations, which are part of the school’s fitness-for-life curriculum. The set-up is a lot different than in grade school, he said.

The choral room is expected to be ready when school starts in August, Nielsen said.

The budget was a major concern for the school board in 1990 when it planned the $13 million school. About $1 million was cut when a building wing was dropped, but that also reduced available space.

At that time, enrollment was about 1,200 and the school was practically filled. The number of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders has been fairly steady in the last three years, ranging from 1,350 to 1,385 students, Nielsen said.

Eric England, on-site construction superintendent for Johnston Contractors Inc. said good weather has helped contractors stay on schedule.

BJHS expansion Overview

Workers will build a 32,000-square-foot addition to an existing 170,655-square-foot building; the 20 percent expansion will address overcrowding. Architect: Fanning/Howey Associates Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.; contractors: Johnston Contractors Inc., Bloomington; engineer: BAA Engineering, Bloomington; site design: Farnsworth Group, Bloomington.

The plans

- 10 new classrooms

- 2 new resource rooms

- New gym, locker rooms

- New choir room

- New nurse’s room

- New conference room

- Relocated, improved disciplinary office

The economics

- Cost: $6,351,300 (contractors, fixed costs, contingency rates and architect/engineering fees).

- No increase to taxpayers.

The calendar

- Groundbreaking: July 13, 2005.

- Construction: On schedule partially due to good weather.

- Completion: Classrooms, August 2006; gym: December 2006 or January 2007.

Compiled by Phyllis Coulter

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