ROCK FALLS – Facilities director Bryan Berogan was a student at Rock Falls High School in the 1970s. The kitchen and service area is pretty much what it was then.
The deep vat fryers were removed some time ago and some equipment was added a decade back. Other than that, little had changed.
Now he’s going to have a hand in renovating the entire area.
“Everything will come out except for the support columns and the brick walls,” he said.
The Rock Falls school board took the first big step toward the kitchen renovation when it approved a general contractor services bid as recommended by Superintendent Ron McCord on Wednesday night in a special meeting.
Gehrke Construction of DeKalb submitted the low base bid of $1,288,000 for the kitchen renovation portion and the bid of $215,900 to install heat, ventilation and air conditioning.
The total project bid was $1,503,900.
The district will pay for the project by allocating $1.2 million from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency funds II and III, $100,000 from school maintenance project grant program and $1 million from the 1% county school facilities occupation tax.
While subzero temps raged outside, Berogan talked about the improvements such as the air conditioning – a much-needed addition when temperatures soar in the fall and spring.
“The kitchen itself doesn’t have AC,” he said. “It gets pretty warm in here.”
The kitchen will be completely re-equipped, including its electricity and plumbing. Much of the equipment no longer meets state food service standards – its continued use had been grandfathered in because no previous renovation project had been undertaken, Berogan said.
“Everything will be up to code, renovated to meet state standards,” Berogan said.
Berogan said he is preparing a timeline for the project, which will be presented to the board at its Jan. 19 meeting.
His staff’s first task will be to gut the kitchen, move out all the equipment ahead of the abatement of asbestos flooring – a 10-day project expected to commence in May.
“Our biggest challenge for my staff and I is to have everything out of here,” Berogan said.
The asbestos removal will have to begin before the school year ends so the entire renovation can be finished and the school can have a working kitchen for the start of the 2022-23 school year, he said.
The kitchen area will be sealed off, so kids are exposed, he said, adding that he is working with the kitchen director and the principal about student meal service in May. He said COVID-19 mitigations for meal service gives the school the experience of having to serve meals outside the cafeteria, including the gymnasium and study halls.