Progress in Process: Construction Updates

Supporting Academic and Career Pathways


In July, the District 233 Board of Education approved the bid for the school's new Net Zero Science Building and the Culinary and Fashion/Interior Design Renovations. DLA Architects worked closely with H-F teachers and administrators to design the spaces around the school's current and future needs.


Superintendent Dr. Scott Wakeley emphasized the importance of academic return on investment in these capital projects, including academic and career pathway needs of students today and into the future. Every H-F student will benefit from the Science Building project through courses required for graduation and new courses that will be possible in the state-of-the-art space. There is currently a waiting list for students interested in culinary courses that cannot be accommodated due to space constraints. In addition, the renovated culinary and fashion labs will allow students access to learning that prepares them with marketable skills and industry credentials in those career areas.

Net Zero Science Building

The new science building, which will be connected to the G wing in the South Building, will house state-of-the-art Science classrooms, collaborative spaces, and a net-zero learning installation. The building will serve as a catalyst for conversations about the importance of conservation — not just the conservation of energy — but also the conservation of species indigenous to the Illinois ecosystem. Outside signage emphasizing the importance of biotic factors (soil microbes, plants & wildlife) and abiotic factors (rain, air quality, wind & solar energy) will be around the building, challenging students and community members to consider how their own actions may positively or negatively impact the ecosystem they inhabit. Inside the building, an interdisciplinary learning commons area will be available, along with classrooms and labs. Real-time dashboards will also be on display, providing data about the building’s energy production and usage. These dashboards will be accessible for classroom and community observation and analysis. In addition, learning exhibits will be strategically placed throughout the building, focusing on specific branches of science and technology including the role that these play in the maintenance of a Net Zero facility and an eco-friendly community. 


Culinary & Design Renovations

The Culinary and Fashion Design renovations will take place in the North building and will include the addition of a commercial kitchen that will open the door to students earning restaurant management certification and dual credit. Fashion Design will move across the hall from its current location with classroom and lab space that supports student career interests in that industry.


Financial Investment


Previously, the costs for the Culinary and Fashion Design Renovations came back significantly higher than anticipated when bid as a standalone project. The Board rejected those bids and agreed with the administration's recommendation to combine the smaller project with the larger Net Zero Science Building bid to take advantage of economies of scale. That resulted in a reduction in cost for the renovations of $344,494.


In July, the Board approved the administration's recommendation including the base bid for the science building, alternate A for the culinary and fashion design renovations, and associated costs totaling $29,851,373. Offsetting the total cost are a $2 million Illinois Clean Energy Grant, a $40,000 ComEd New Construction Grant, and a $500,000 Illinois State Capital Improvement Grant. That brings the total cost to the district to $27,311,373.


Additionally, a building of this size would typically incur energy and maintenance costs of around $84,500 annually. As a net zero building that cost will be reduced to $0.


The district will use the $20 million capital improvement bond it sold last year to cover the majority of the expense. The remainder will come from district reserves. The district currently has 9.3 months of reserves across its operating funds and working cash. This will reduce reserves to 7.9 months over the next five years. Investing in these capital improvement projects balances the academic and career pathway needs of students today with the long-term fiscal responsibility of the district.


Other alternates in the bid that were not approved include renovations for the B and G Building areas currently occupied by the science department as well as an outdoor classroom and learning garden space. The district will look for alternative funding to address those areas.