MORTON — Morton Junior High School will be getting a makeover.

School Board members Tuesday approved the low bid of $2.08 million from Peoria-based George H. Rump Construction Company for the first phase of a planned two-phase improvement of the crowded, aging school at 225 E. Jackson St.

Highlights of the first phase are the construction of a new main entrance and main office on the north side of the building that makes the school more secure, a new traffic pattern for the drop-off of students on school mornings, and the installation of a new elevator.

Before voting on the low bid, board members had a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of having both phases done at the same time. The second phase features the construction of a new gymnasium.

In the end, board members decided to accept the low bid for the first phase mainly because it means the new main entrance, which will replace the current one on the east side of the school, will be in place sooner than later.

“We’ve said since we started discussing what needed to be done at the junior high that better security is our highest priority,” said board member Jeff Schmidgall.

Architect Jeff Keach said the new main entrance and main office could be completed by Christmas if the weather cooperates.

Roadwork for the student drop-off improvement won't start until 2020 so it can be done in conjunction with a village of Morton road project in the area.

Parents will be able to drop off students on the east and west sides of the junior high, off North Third Avenue and North Second Avenue, respectively.

The east-side drop-off will be new and be the major drop-off point. The west-side drop-off will be used by buses before parents arrive.

"We need to have drop-offs on both sides of our building," said Principal Lee Hoffman.

Students no longer will be dropped off on or near busy East Jackson Street, which borders the south end of the junior high.

The first phase project also will make two previous classroom spaces available again for classroom use, add more parking to the campus, and include maintenance work identified on the school district's 15-year facilities plan.

Asbestos removal must be done in conjunction with the project. Board members Tuesday approved the low bid of $124,480 from Environmental Assurance of Indianapolis for that work.

Also Tuesday, board members discussed a proposal to install a new scoreboard at Morton High School's Carper Field. The current scoreboard was damaged by a storm last fall.

Under the proposal, the district would pay 25 percent of the $160,000 cost of the scoreboard, with scoreboard vendor Nevco, based in Greenville, covering the rest of the cost through advertising.

The district has $20,000 in insurance money, so it would need to come up with $20,000 to bring its total to $40,000.

After the $160,000 cost of the scoreboard was covered, the district and Nevco would split advertising revenue.

The scoreboard would be moved from the east end to the southwest side of the field.

"This is a video scoreboard. You'd lose a lot of picture quality if it was facing into the sun during the evening," said board President Shad Beaty.

Board members asked Superintendent Jeff Hill to have a representative from Nevco attend a board meeting to answer questions.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com.