John Mills rendering

John Mills Construction Project

Keeping the Elmwood Park Community Informed of Our School's Renovations and Additions

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!

For photos of the event, click here. For video coverage and a wrap-up article, click here.

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.

Building a Brighter Future


Phase 1 Construction: Summer 2022 Rewind

How It Was Going — July 2022

Project Overview

During the next two years, 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
JM hardhat logo


  • 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 will get fully underway on May 31, 2022, with completion scheduled for August 2024. The entire John Mills property will be inaccessible during the summer.

Handling the project will be 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

Groundbreaking ceremony at John Mills

PHOTOS: Above, members of the District 401 Board of Education, 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. Below, John Mills students perform their school song under the direction of music teacher Sarah Altshuler. Click the student photo to see and hear them perform! For more photos, visit these galleries. (Top photo by Alex Romanovsky, DLA Architects; bottom photo by Dave Porreca, District 401)

John Mills students perform their school song.

Construction Timeline

Renderings of the New John Mills

What a New John Mills Will Look Like

Project Floor Plans

John Mills Floor Plans

ABOVE: Floor plan for lower level of John Mills (click image for larger view).

JM Floor Plans

ABOVE: Floor plan for first floor of John Mills (click image for larger view).

JM Floor Plans

ABOVE: Floor plan for second floor of John Mills (click image for larger view).

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."

Unveiling the Plans

Dr. Gauthier points out changes planned for John Mills School

ABOVE: Dr. Leah Gauthier, District 401 Superintendent of Schools, points out some of the changes planned for John Mills during an update session at the school on Nov. 1, 2021. A similar session took place at Elmwood School on Oct. 27, 2021. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)

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."

Onsite Work Begins

Workers prep the construction site at Elmwood School.

ABOVE: The first onsite work involving either school project began on March 8, 2022, when workers began prepping the construction site at Elmwood. (D401 photo by Joseph Sierra)

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.

Follow Our Progress!

Be sure to bookmark this page for updates throughout the duration of the projects!