South Side Elem work

Workers build a curb in a parking area Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at South Side Elementary School in Champaign.

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CHAMPAIGN — Renovations to the second-floor bathrooms at South Side Elementary School are on track to be finished Wednesday — just in time for the start of classes the next morning.

It’s been a close call for crews at South Side, one of six Champaign school buildings getting multimillion-dollar makeovers as part of the taxpayer-approved 2016 referendum.

South Side itself will get $12.1 million worth of upgrades, including modernized classrooms, improved access and an addition.

On Monday, new Principal Christian Mahone could picture the finished product — even as fifth-graders prepare to spend this semester in portable classrooms and construction workers hammer away nearby on the parking area.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Mahone, who had served as principal of Springfield’s Xtreme Summer Academy prior to joining Unit 4 this summer. “The part that is a little bit frustrating is that when you do get behind, you have to figure out how to work around it. My top priority is to make sure my students are safe.

“Staff has been very understanding; we know we had a little bit of a headache, but we’ll have a brand new building and space, and I’m excited for it.”

The project fell a little bit behind schedule when asbestos removal — slated to last six days — wound up taking three weeks. That means the timetable of the school’s major addition now has a projected end date of January 2020, not December.

South Side, Edison Middle School and Centennial High School are all scheduled to be finished in summer 2021.


Lyndsay Jones is a reporter covering education at The News-Gazette. Her email is ljones@news-gazette, and you can follow her on Twitter (@__lyndsayjones).