EAST MOLINE — School board members, administrators, political leaders and some kids took turns digging dirt at Monday afternoon’s “official ground-breaking” at United Township High School.

It marked the beginning of a $9.6 million Student Life Addition and renovation project.

“As you can see, we’ve begun some preliminary earth work, and the project will continue to progress until completion in late July, 2019,” superintendent, Dr. Jay Morrow, said.

Plans call for a new secure entrance, a realignment of offices for “one-stop shopping” for parents who visit the school, a commons area for students adjoining the cafeteria and a new library/media center. The new center will face the Avenue of the Cities.

Bush Construction was selected as the project’s construction manager in May, while OPN Architects, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is its architectural firm.

The board approved the project May 21, but it was the result of Nov. 8, 2016 election results.

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“On this date, Rock Island County voters approved the school facility sales tax on our fourth attempt,” Morrow said.

Henry County voters had approved it in 2014.

“With passage in both counties, we were able to realize adequate funding to begin looking at potential projects that aligned with our 10-year facilities plan,” Morrow said.

A steering committee was formed in the winter of 2017. It wrapped up its work in June of that year. It was later taken to its board. It eventually went out for bids in May, Morrow recapped.

“This brings us to today — a day to celebrate the next chapter in providing premium education to our students,” he said.

Students have done some amazing achievements in the past five years, he said. "This project will hopefully allow for greater student achievement."

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