D97 looks ahead to future construction

Summer 2018 work, upcoming Lincoln, Longfellow expansions discussed

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

During a regular board meeting on May 8, District 97 officials laid out the district's future capital improvement plans, which include a summary of upcoming summer 2018 construction work, the status of the Holmes Elementary expansion, and future plans for expanding and renovating Lincoln and Longfellow. 

Alicia Evans, D97's assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said during the meeting that the district's Facilities Advisory Committee recommended that the district focus summer construction work on replacing a roof at Irving, fixing a Lincoln courtyard door, and renovating a first-grade classroom at Hatch. 

Evans said administration officials agreed with the committee's recommendations. District officials did not discuss costs related to summer construction work, and the school board has not yet voted to approve the projects. 

At last week's meeting, representatives from the district's architect, STR Partners LLC, and general contractor Bully and Andrews said that the project to construct a two-story, six-classroom expansion at Holmes, at a cost of no more than $8.8 million, is on track to be finished within budget by mid-August. 

The project includes the expansion of the school's multipurpose space and media center, along with various classroom space upgrades, among other improvements. 

The district has also started discussions on renovating both Lincoln and Longfellow. Work on both of those schools will likely take place in 2019, officials said. 

Jennifer Costanzo, with STR Partners, said that many spaces in Lincoln, such as the cafeteria, band room and many general education classrooms, are too small for the school's growing student population. 

So far, plans for the school include a three-story west-side addition, a two-story north-side addition, various interior renovations, the installation of a new elevator and wheelchair lift and additional classrooms, among other features. 

District officials said cost projections for the Lincoln expansion have come in at $19.8 million — around $14.5 million more than the roughly $4.6 million price tag that was originally anticipated for the improvements a few years ago. 

School board President Holly Spurlock said during the meeting that the most recent cost estimate is closer to $7 million more than originally projected, since life safety, ADA, HVAC and other work was budgeted as separate line items. 

Costanzo said the recent plans for Lincoln are more costly because the district is "attempting to right-size" classrooms that have been shoehorned into spaces that may be less than ideal for instructional purposes. 

Board member Bob Spatz added that the new plans for Lincoln include more classroom space than earlier construction plans allowed for. 

The district's facilities committee had flirted with deferring construction on Longfellow until the summer of 2020, but the school's principal, Angela Dolezal, was against the idea. Dolezal said the school's capital improvement needs were too pressing to be held off for a year. 

The school board is looking to meet with the facilities committee sometime in June to discuss Lincoln construction. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com    

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Paul Cagnina  

Posted: May 17th, 2018 3:35 PM

It sounds like a $7 million increase over the last 3 years. Is almost a 190% increase. The problem I have is that the inflation rate over the last 5 years has only been 2% annually.

Lisa Saxon Reed  

Posted: May 16th, 2018 10:16 PM

Only $7 million over?! No. How are we finding the money to fund this overage? The D97 board needs to have proper oversight or resign.

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