WASHINGTON — The school sign in front of the main entrance to Washington Community High School and a parking lot across West Jefferson Street from the sign each will be getting a new look.
Projects totaling $240,841 approved this month by the School Board will replace the problematic digital message board on the sign and repave and expand the Jefferson West parking lot.
Forty parking spaces will be added to the Jefferson West lot, the primary lot for faculty during the school day and a popular lot for attendees at after-school events.
"We've had problems for years with the message board on the school sign, especially during very warm or very cold weather," said Superintendent Kyle Freeman. "The new message board should be much more reliable, and brighter."
The new message board will be the same size as the current board — 2.5 feet by 7 feet — but with a 10-millimeter full-color LED display. The current board has a monochrome display.
No taxpayer dollars will be used for the sign project. Money will come from the school's activities fund, which is filled with payments from Pepsi in exchange for the school selling Pepsi products.
A state grant will pay half the cost of repaving the Jefferson West parking lot.
The school will pay to add the 40 parking spaces, which will increase the 160-space lot's capacity by 25%. New angled striping in the lot will help with traffic flow.
There currently are 574 parking spaces available for Washington high school students, staff and others during the school day.
The Wilmor Road lot has 165 spaces for students, the Jefferson East lot has 149 spaces for students, and 100 spaces are available for students in the south parking lot at Five Points Washington.
About two-thirds of the Jefferson West parking spaces are reserved for staff and visitors, and maintenance employees, band trailers and handicapped parking account for another 15 to 25 spaces.
About one-third of the spaces on the north end of the Jefferson West lot are for students.
With the addition of 40 spaces in the Jefferson West lot, nearly 500 total spaces will be available for students.
Dan Gray Signs of Peoria was the low bidder for the message board project at $23,678.
Tremont-based R.A. Cullinan & Sons was the low bidder for the Jefferson West repaving project at $112,891 and the parking space addition project at $104,272.
The new message board should be in place next month, although it could be later if parts are delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The repaving work is expected to begin in mid-July.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.