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John Mills Construction Project

Rendering of John Mills Elementary School main lobby

Keeping the Elmwood Park Community Informed of Our Construction Progress

On May 17, 2022, the John Mills Elementary School construction project kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony. The event featured guest speakers, student singers and contest winners, refreshments and even some swag!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the celebration, and thank you to all Elmwood Park residents who made it possible for us to take our next step in District 401's vision for building a brighter future for our students, families and community.

Construction Showcase 2023

Phase 2 Construction — A Sample of Summer 2023 Progress

A view of construction on the second floor of John Mills Elementary School, July 2023. | More photos are available here.

Another view of construction progress on the second floor of John Mills, July 2023. | More photos are available here.

Phase 1 Construction — Summer 2022 Rewind

How It Was Going — July 2022

Project Overview

From 2022 through 2024, work will be conducted to upgrade John Mills by meeting the following needs:


  • Add classroom and office space to the west side of the building


  • Replace boilers and unit ventilators
  • Repair or replace the HVAC distribution system
  • Repair or replace air conditioning equipment


  • Replace galvanized piping
  • Repair pipes, drains, related equipment where needed
  • Replace water heaters


  • Upgrade circuit breakers and electrical panels and related wiring and equipment
  • Replace or provide wiring throughout the building
  • Replace interior and exterior lighting


  • Replace windows, repair roofs and conduct tuckpointing around the entire exterior
  • Replace doors, including door frames and locks
  • Replace security camera, door alarm and public address systems
  • Renovate interior spaces to modernize the learning environment

Construction work got fully underway on May 31, 2022, with completion scheduled for August 2024. The entire John Mills property will be inaccessible during summer until then.

Handling the project are DLA Architects, Ltd., and International Contractors, Inc., the same firms responsible for the recent renovation and expansion of Elm Middle School.

John Mills Groundbreaking Ceremony

District 401 Board of Education members, along with our Superintendent of Schools, District administrators and John Mills building leaders, participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking at the school on May 17, 2022. | Photo by Alex Romanovsky, DLA Architects


John Mills students perform their school song at the groundbreaking ceremony, under the direction of music teacher Sarah Altshuler. | Photo by Dave Porreca, District 401

What a New John Mills Will Look Like

Floor Plans | Basement

Floor Plans | First Floor

Floor Plans | Second Floor

The Project's Background

In March 2020, Elmwood Park voters approved a $55 million bond issue to renovate and add to Elmwood Elementary School and John Mills Elementary School. The measure received 61.89% of the 3,529 ballots cast.

To handle the construction projects, District 401 chose DLA Architects, Ltd., and International Contractors, Inc., the same two firms responsible for the recent renovation and expansion of Elm Middle School.

DLA and ICI also worked together to build the science wing at Elmwood Park High School, as well as to expand and remodel the south end of Elmwood Elementary.

"It is beyond exciting that we are about to start the construction process to provide an updated learning environment for our community," said Dr. Leah Gauthier, Superintendent of Schools for District 401.

"We know our students will be able to grow and thrive in these spaces for years to come."

During an update session at John Mills on Nov. 1, 2021, Superintendent Dr. Leah Gauthier points out some of the changes planned for the school. A similar session took place at Elmwood Elementary on Oct. 27, 2021. | Photo by Dave Porreca, District 401


Moving Forward

In the months since the 2020 bond referendum passed, designs and floor plans for each school were prepared. They were displayed respectively to the Elmwood Park community in two public sessions: Oct. 27, 2021, at Elmwood School and Nov. 1, 2021, at John Mills School.

"The District is very excited to begin the addition and renovation projects at our two elementary schools," said Mr. James Jennings, Assistant Superintendent for Business, Finance & Operations.

"In 2019 the District presented several options to the community and asked for input from all stakeholders," he continued. "The results from the feedback was to replace the current plumbing, electrical and other life safety items, update the interior throughout the current building and to put an addition on both elementary schools."

Initial onsite work got underway on March 8, 2022, when crews began prepping the work site at Elmwood School. Asbestos abatement projects began at both schools on March 28.

Official groundbreaking ceremonies were held at Elmwood on May 11, 2022, and at John Mills on May 17, 2022, with the conclusion of the projects scheduled for August 2024.

Construction Timeline