Lockport D-205 board to meet tonight to address learning plan with Central campus closed

Assessment of Central building ongoing

Lockport Township High School District 205 Central campus in Lockport, Sept. 19, 2023.  The campus serves as a freshmen center.

Almost a week since a classroom ceiling collapsed at Lockport Township High School’s Central campus, the building remains closed to students and faculty as it undergoes an inspection to see how sound the structure is.

The campus, which serves as the District 205 freshmen center and houses some special education programs, is 114-years-old and sits in the heart of Lockport’s downtown residential district.

Freshmen and special education students switched to remote, e-learning, following normal classroom schedules, beginning on Friday.

District officials said at the time that decision was made that long-term remote learning was not ideal and wanted to explore more options to get the affected students back into in-person learning as soon as possible. One of those options means having freshmen attend East campus with the sophomores, juniors and seniors.

District 205′s enrollment is more than 3,800 students.

The school board will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the East campus, 1333 E. 7th St., Lockport, to update parents on solutions for educating their students going forward and structural status of the Central campus.

“We are looking at every option as we move forward and learn more from the forensic architects assessing Central.,” Superintendent Dr. Robert McBride said in a statement posted on the website. “As you can imagine, we have brainstormed everything from extending remote learning, housing all students at East Campus with some type of modified schedule, or looking towards an alternative location that could accommodate our freshman class. We hope to recommend to the Board the option that best aligns with in-person learning given what we know at this time.”

In a statement posted on its website Monday evening, the district said it wanted to keep the public appraised of progress made on the Central campus inspection and how the district was supporting students and faculty.

Third-story classroom in Lockport Township High School Central Campus after the plaster ceiling collapsed.

Forensic architects “are working classroom by classroom and space by space to cut holes in ceilings and assess the systems that support those plaster ceilings, particularly the ceilings in the 1909 and 1928 sections of the building,” according to the release from the district.

“This is slow and methodical work, and we have made a promise not to return students and staff members to Central for school until we have a full understanding of the integrity of all classrooms. Also, the LTHS [school board] has directed me to do everything possible to return students and staff members to in-person learning,” McBride said in the release.

Tuesday’s meeting will focus on decisions that will need to be made regarding usage at Central Campus and how those decisions will impact school operations, according to the release.

The meeting will also be publicly accessible via Livestream. To access the agenda & meeting, visit https://www.lths.org/.../page/board-of-education-meetings.

District 205 reported a ceiling in a classroom collapsed overnight Nov. 1 and was discovered on the morning of Nov. 2. No one was in the room at the time and no injuries were reported.

The notice of the collapsed ceiling was originally posted about 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Classes in the building begin at 7:45 a.m.

As a precaution, students who attend Central campus were dismissed early that day as the administration worked with the Lockport Township Fire Department, the Lockport City Engineer’s office and the Lockport Police Department for “further assessment” of the damage.

Lockport Township High School District 205 Superintendent Dr. Robert McBride presides over Board of Education Meeting with Board Vice President Dr. Veronica Shaw and Board President Ann Lopez-Caneva on Nov. 2, 2023.

Representatives from DLA Architects and forensic engineers were working with local fire officials and the building inspector on sight to “assess the total structure of every classroom and space in Lockport Central Campus,” according to a release from the district at that time.

District 205 has said it has been working with the Will CountyRegional Office of Education to help determine with the building could be reoccupied by students and staff.

The Board of Education, administration and representatives from DLA Architects outlined some of the current concerns and structural issues at Central at a special meeting on Nov. 2.

Part of that presentation addressed longterm needs and solutions that could be resolved through a major renovation program. McBride said the district would need to present a building bond proposal in a referendum to the voters sometime early next year to get the funding for that work.