Renovation underway on Caruso Middle School auditorium in Deerfield
About a decade in the making, a $6.3 million renovation and expansion of the auditorium and related spaces at Caruso Middle School in Deerfield finally is underway.
Trenches outside the northeast corner of the existing building were dug last month, and the foundations for the soon-to-be-expanded facilities have been poured.
From there, the expansions will rise.
The project was planned around scheduled school events, so construction won't interfere with student activities, Deerfield School District 109 spokesman Eric Steckling said. The bulk of construction will occur during the summer, he said.
Officials are aiming for a January 2023 completion.
"Our goal is to have next spring's middle school musical be the first big production in the new facility," Steckling said.
The theater hasn't been upgraded since it was built as part of a 1976 addition to the school, officials said. It doesn't have permanent seating or meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities.
"Folding chairs or other arrangements have had to be used for performances," Steckling said.
The new theater will meet modern seating and accessibility standards. It also will have backstage dressing rooms for performers, improved equipment storage space, better stage and house lighting systems and a control room for performances.
The adjacent band and orchestra room will be enlarged, too. That will allow larger ensembles to use the space and for students to spread out more, Steckling said.
The project is being handled Waukegan-based by Happ Builders.
District 109 is getting some help paying for the project from the Deerfield Park District, which is kicking in $1 million for the effort. The park district uses the current theater space and will use the new one, too, said Tim Ryan, the school district's buildings and grounds director.
"This had always been viewed as a joint (or) shared venture," Ryan said.