CHAMPAIGN — If you need to stop by the Champaign schools' Mellon Administration Center this summer, expect to take a detour to get into the building.
The front entrance and circle drive will be under construction, and the reception area has been relocated to the board room on the south side of the building.
The work at 703 S. New St., C, is being done to replace a steel beam that holds up the concrete for the second-level main entrance on the front of the building.
The beam is failing, said Arlene Vespa, the school district's capital projects supervisor. The delaminating beam is creating cracks in the concrete. As water gets into those cracks, freezing and thawing causes spalling, or flaking, of the concrete.
The school district has been monitoring it and wanted to take care of it before it became a true safety issue, Vespa said.
"It's really at a point that it needs to be done," Vespa said.
The project will cost $155,800, and the school board approved a contract with low-bidder Grunloh Construction. It will be paid for with money set aside from the school facilities sales tax for deferred maintenance.
While the district is going to the expense of replacing the beam, Vespa said, it's also taking the opportunity to make the front entrance meet the accessibility standards for the Americans with Disabilities Act and to increase the main reception area on the second level and storage space on the first level.
School district spokeswoman Lynn Peisker said the school district is taking the opportunity to make the district building more welcoming for members of the public and district employees visiting the building.
Vespa said the school district stopped using the main entrance last Monday, but construction is scheduled to begin today.
The district's contract requires the work to be substantially complete by mid-October, but Vespa said it could be completed sooner than that.
Along with replacing the beam, the school district will redo the first-level entrance to include more storage space, and the main entrance's reception area to provide more space for waiting visitors.
It will also grade the sidewalk to make the main entrance wheelchair-accessible. The entrance currently has concrete steps.
The Mellon building was constructed in the 1960s, and Vespa said the school district looked into replacing the '60s style block screens on the front of the building, but it cost too much.