School virtual walk through

John Kretchmer, an associate with Wold Architects and Engineers, explains work planned as part renovations at Litchfield Middle School and High School during the School Board meeting Jan. 25.

Proposed upgrades at Litchfield High School and Middle School took sharper focus during the Jan. 25 School Board meeting.

Litchfield School Board members took a virtual walk through of a remodeled middle school and high school complex during their meeting.

Representatives from ICS and Wold Architects gave the board a tour via video of concept drawings that highlighted various areas of the renovation project, which is estimated to cost $13.2 million and will be undertaken during the next two years.

“That was fabulous,” board member Julie Pennertz said after watching the video tours.

“It looks absolutely beautiful, guys,” board Chairman Darrin Anderson agreed. “Awesome job. It is a big process, and you guys are more valuable than I could ever say.”

John Kretchmer, an associate at Wold Architects and Engineers, said the designs are the result of a collaborative effort with teachers and administrators at the schools.

“(It is) reflective of a lot of input,” Kretchmer said, adding that principals have been accommodating and “generous with their time. (We) want to make sure they are commended as well.”

Work is slated to begin in June and be completed by September 2022, according to the construction calendar shared by Wold Architects and ICS.

But first, the board had to approve the letting of bids, which it did during the meeting. Bids will be received through much of February, with bid opening planned for the end of the month.

The middle school and high school renovations are the largest part of the building improvements approved by voters in a 2019 bond referendum. Improvements to the grounds and renovation of the building at Lake Ripley Elementary School also were part of the referendum approval. The work at Lake Ripley has already begun, with an upgrade to the parking lot and playground construction completed.

Perhaps the most eye-catching element of the high school-middle school renovation is the design of what will be a multi-purpose space near the main entrance to the high school. The current little theater and cafeteria spaces will be transformed into one large commons area that will serve as a lunchroom, as well as an area for public events or performances. The combined, wide-open space will actually allow for more seating that is currently offered in the theater and cafeteria, Kretchmer said.

He said designers were “trying to be intentional about giving people good sight lines” as well as designing for good acoustics in the space. The “intentional” design also carries to the media center, which will be transformed as part of the renovation.

“This has been such a wonderful experience to work with these guys,” board member Greg Mathews said. “They’ve given us options as to what we can do. When this began, the summer of 2022 seemed so distant. And we’re almost into the summer of 2021. It’s run so smoothly. (The board) has chosen very wisely to bring in this group. They’ve been outstanding.”