Urbana school construction back on track after delays

Construction of two new schools in Urbana is back on track after months of delays from problems with the original location of the building for pre-k through eighth-graders.

The district recently broke ground for the $39 million elementary/middle school at its new location on U.S. 68 near the Vintage Drive-Thru and Campground Road. The high school, being built near the existing building, is a bit ahead of schedule, Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel said, despite upgrades to the plans that are in the works.

“It feels great,” Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel said.

He said he was on the sites this week and drove around to see the progress.

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The district had to find a new location for the pre-k through 8th grade school after concerns were raised about the proximity of the original location — near the Champaign County Family YMCA on Community Drive — to an old landfill.

The search for a new property delayed that construction project, Thiel said, but fortunately the district had another project to focus on.

“We pushed the high school up earlier and started that earlier than what we had anticipated,” he said, “and we started the elementary school later.”

Now workers have begun to lay out the inside of the high school building.

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“It’s really exciting to start to see the actual classrooms and how they’re laid out in the building,” Thiel said.

The school district’s architect is also working on a redesign of the windows at the high school, he said, that will allow students to exit classrooms through the windows.

School leaders looked to make the change in windows after the shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School, he said. Students escaped the school through windows after one student fire shots.

“We’ve looked at the opportunity for our students to be able to exit through the classroom itself,” he said.

The high school is slated to be completed by Spring of 2018, while the elementary school is expected to be completed by January 2019.

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