LOGAN SQUARE — Construction crews have taken over Darwin Elementary this summer, bringing $10 million in upgrades to the Logan Square school.
The massive renovation, which is being funded with tax-increment finance dollars, kicked off earlier this summer and is expected to continue through next summer, CPS officials said.
Crews are fixing the school’s leaky roof, old plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems and water-damaged finishes. The project also calls for upgrades to the school’s cornices and windows, among other aging infrastructure.
Darwin, 3116 W. Belden Ave., is made up of three buildings: The oldest and second-oldest were built in 1900 and 1920, respectively, while the addition went up in 1978 as a temporary solution to overcrowding at the school.
The school has long suffered from water leaks and structural problems, Darwin Principal Daniel De Los Reyes said.
During heavy storms earlier this month, flooding hit the school’s original coal room where engineer equipment is now stored, De Los Reyes said. Most of the equipment was recovered, but the flood points to larger issues throughout the campus, he said.
“With the water, the walls and the facade are now being secured and updated … for our community’s safety. That’s super important,” the principal said.
The City Council signed off last summer on allocating $10 million in TIF funding to the neighborhood restoration project, clearing the way for construction.
This is the school’s first major renovation in years.
Over the last five years, crews removed part of the school’s cornice as part of a building envelope project and built new Pre-K classrooms, district-led projects totaling nearly $560,000, CPS officials said.
The district chooses which schools to renovate using biennial assessments, officials said. For a list of capital projects throughout the district, go here.
Darwin enrolls 484 kids, most of them low-income Hispanic students, according to CPS data.
School grounds are closed this summer during construction, but there are no parking or driving restrictions, officials said.
De Los Reyes said the renovations will have a lasting impact on the neighborhood school.
“We hope it gives our students and families a great deal of pride to walk into a building that is well-kept and taken care of,” he said.
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