Renovation underway on Caruso Middle School auditorium in Deerfield

  • The Caruso Middle School in Deerfield hasn't been updated since it was built as part of a 1976 addition to the school. It doesn't have permanent seating or meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities.

      The Caruso Middle School in Deerfield hasn't been updated since it was built as part of a 1976 addition to the school. It doesn't have permanent seating or meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The Deerfield Park District is sharing the cost for the renovations of the Caruso Middle School auditorium, said Tim Ryan, director of buildings and maintenance for Deerfield District 109. The park district uses the current theater space and plans to use the new one as well. "This has always been viewed as joint or shared venture," he said.

      The Deerfield Park District is sharing the cost for the renovations of the Caruso Middle School auditorium, said Tim Ryan, director of buildings and maintenance for Deerfield District 109. The park district uses the current theater space and plans to use the new one as well. "This has always been viewed as joint or shared venture," he said. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Ryan, director of buildings and maintenance for Deerfield District 109, explains the work in progress on the Caruso Middle School auditorium. The new theater will meet modern seating and accessibility standards, plus it will have backstage dressing rooms, improved equipment storage space, better stage and house lighting systems, and a control room for performances.

      Tim Ryan, director of buildings and maintenance for Deerfield District 109, explains the work in progress on the Caruso Middle School auditorium. The new theater will meet modern seating and accessibility standards, plus it will have backstage dressing rooms, improved equipment storage space, better stage and house lighting systems, and a control room for performances. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Tim Ryan, director of buildings and maintenance for Deerfield District 109, explains the work in progress on the Caruso Middle School auditorium. A bulk of the work is scheduled to be done over the summer and expected to be complete by January. The auditorium hasn't been updated since it was built as part of a 1976 addition to the school. It doesn't have permanent seating or meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities.

      Tim Ryan, director of buildings and maintenance for Deerfield District 109, explains the work in progress on the Caruso Middle School auditorium. A bulk of the work is scheduled to be done over the summer and expected to be complete by January. The auditorium hasn't been updated since it was built as part of a 1976 addition to the school. It doesn't have permanent seating or meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/14/2022 8:23 AM

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.

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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.

Learn more about the project at dps109.org/carusoauditorium. A short video about the work done so far is available at bit.ly/3j5ZG1G.

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