Godfrey-Lee — Chilling wind and rain did not dampen a long-awaited celebration at Lee Middle and High School.
District leaders, students, staff, community members and project partners gathered to break ground on a two-year restoration and expansion project. Over 100 years old, the building experienced a structural failure in June 2019, causing part of the roof to collapse.
In November 2020, the community voted in support of a $17.9 million bond program to fund a major transformation to the building.
“This is an exciting time for our students, staff and community,” Superintendent Michael Burde said. “This project is a testament to our community’s unity and support. Together, we are restoring and improving the school, to ensure it serves our students well for decades to come.”
Burde thanked the Godfrey-Lee community for its “tremendous support” and for the “staff’s perseverance after the building collapsed.” He described the construction project as “student centered” and said it will incorporate new technologies, opportunities for community connections and collaborative teaching and creative spaces.
He added: “It will be worth the wait.”
Godfrey-Lee Board of Education President Erik Mockerman also praised the community’s support.
“Our community steps up and it shows,” Mockerman said. “Our kids consistently exceed our high expectations and now they will have spaces worthy of their caliber.”
Spaces for Education and Community
Pouring footings will be the next step in the project. The school will remain open throughout the construction, which will be sequenced to impact daily education as little as possible.
Building additions feature four new classrooms and a new cafeteria in the space of the current courtyard. Existing classrooms will undergo renovations to create 21st century learning spaces, equipped with new furnishings and technologies. The media center will also be transformed into a flexible learning space with direct access for community and students.
A new band room addition will be attached to the Oosterhouse Activities Center and accessible from the lower level of the middle school. The old band room space will be repurposed for a Community Wellness and Resource Clinic.
Additional health and wellness upgrades include installing air conditioning systems, updating fire alarm systems and security, adding roof insulation and replacing old mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment.
‘Together, we are restoring and improving the school, to ensure it serves our students well for decades to come.’– Superintendent Michael Burde
Burde and the project team estimates an 18-month construction, but are prepared to expect delays.
“This project has been a long time in the making and there is a lot of excitement,” Burde said. “People are ready.”