Plywood lines the hallways at Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools as students attend classes in the midst of major renovations, set to be complete by the end of 2024.
“The students have been very good about living through the construction and navigating that,” Lawrence North principal Brett Crusore said.
The projects are funded through a $220 million capital referendum approved by voters in 2019. It will help pay for renovations at LCHS, LNHS, Brook Park Elementary, Forest Glen Elementary, Oakland Elementary, Winding Ridge Elementary and two other early learning center sites. Approximately $180 million went to projects at the high schools.
“Our constituents and our community believe in our public schools and believe in the students who are attending here,” Crusore said. “Our board of education, (and) our superintendent, value space and value a beautiful campus. We will have the most beautiful high school, and I’m excited about what we will now be able to do with both Lawrence Central and Lawrence North moving forward.”
Both schools will receive updates to classrooms, many of which haven’t been updated since the schools were built, said Rodger Smith, MSDLT Chief of Operations. The schools are receiving a three-story building addition to house core academic classes such as English, math, science and history and new natatoriums to house 50 meter pools.
The three-story building is complete at LCHS. The original building is being renovated to house classrooms for elective courses, with the new pool being constructed on the south side of the building along East 56th Street, Bush said.
“Lawrence Central is landlocked, with neighborhoods and everything around us. So there’s really no opportunity for us to continue expanding out,” Bush said. “We ended up gaining more space by (constructing) in and going up.”
Smith said that neither of the schools have previously received renovations on this scale. LNHS, which was built in 1976, has had few upgrades since that time. Lawrence Central, which was built in 1964, underwent some modifications in the 1990s.
“It was time to do some major renovations to these buildings,” Smith said. “Every space in those buildings will be touched through this renovation. So we redesigned certain spaces and really made it so that it meets the needs of today’s curriculum.”
Students at LCHS have already seen some big changes. Smith said that the schools are working with different timelines, as LCHS already has its three-story building expansion but LNHS is twice as far along in constructing its pool. Work is expected to be complete at LCHS in the fall of 2024, with work wrapping up closer to the end of 2024 at LNHS.
“We have students who take some classes at Lawrence Central, so the students who have been to see what it looks like over there are just extremely excited,” Crusore said.
Crusore said construction and limited space has led to traffic jams during passing periods. He said the plan is for LNHS students to move into the new three-story building by the start of the next semester on Jan. 4, 2023.
Upgrades also include increased safety measures, Crusore said. Each hallway at both high schools will be able to be locked down as well as being widened. There are also new LED lights and additional staircases.
The renovations are rejuvenating a sense of pride in the community, Bush said.
“We have way more multipurpose spaces instead of just wasted dead spaces in our building,” Bush said. “I’m most excited about the access that our students and our families now have to this building.”
Learn more at ltschools.org/services/business-finance/referendum.
Brook Park Elementary, Forest Glen Elementary, Oakland Elementary, Winding Ridge Elementary and four early learning center sites had construction projects completed earlier this year.
Brook Park Elementary and Early Learning Center serves about 600 students and completed a nearly $6.7 million renovation in January. The school, which was originally constructed in 1960, received a renovated entrance, new paint and flooring, updated parking, exterior paint, updates to the front office and upgrades and renovations of classrooms with the addition of a makerspace. The Early Learning Center received new paint and flooring, updated lighting, new playground equipment, security upgrades and a new mothers room.
Forest Glen Elementary School of Spanish Immersion, which was built in 1994 and houses about 800 students, received $7.4 million in upgrades. Improvements include an updated entrance, new paint and flooring, renovated classrooms, addition of administrative spaces and the addition of a makerspace.
Oakland Elementary, constructed in 1974, serves about 520 students and saw previous renovations in 1999. The work at Oakland included an updated entrance, new paint and flooring, updated parking, front office renovation, addition of a mother’s room, addition of administrative spaces, renovation of food services and the renovation and relocation of classrooms to include a makerspace.
Winding Ridge Elementary was built in 2004 and received $4.3 million in updates, including a new entrance, new paint and flooring, updated parking, a front office renovation, addition of a mother’s room, renovation of food services, addition of administrative spaces and the renovation and relocation of classrooms to include a makerspace.
Amy Beverland and Mary Castle early learning centers received renovations. These projects totaled approximately $2.5 million and included security upgrades, new paint and flooring, updated lighting, a new playground, the addition of a mother’s room and new freezer/cooler equipment.