A two-story, six-classroom addition to Holmes School was unanimously approved by the District 97 school board at its Sept. 26 meeting. The expansion will cost $8.8 million. The plan also calls for expanding the Chicago Avenue school’s multipurpose space and media center, classroom renovations and a repurposed second floor. 

The district had originally approved another plan — an estimated $5.6 million, 1-story, 5-classroom addition last July, but the district’s Facilities Advisory Committee — a voluntary group comprising parents and community members who are experts in architecture, engineering and other related fields — reconsidered that option. 

Paul May, a civil engineer and FAC member, said during a Sept. 13 informational meeting that both plans would entail the expansion going up on the Kenilworth side of the school and the relocation of utilities. The plan approved last week, however, may not require the relocation of a water main in that area, he said.  

District officials said that the approved plan, which would be paid for with bonds, could be completed in one construction season and in time for the 2018-19 school year. They added that the plan was actually less expensive, on a square-footage basis, than the previously approved plan. 

At the Sept. 13 meeting, district officials addressed a range of concerns expressed by community members. They said that a rock garden that’s currently located in the area where the addition would go up could be relocated to a new patio area. 

District officials also addressed how the recent hurricane season could affect the cost and availability of construction materials, noting that although construction crews could experience delayed supplies, the contractor would order the materials far enough in advance to minimize the delay. 

District officials said the expansion project’s construction manager, Bulley and Andrews, have started communicating with utility companies about their needs during the construction process. Nicor, officials said, explained that they’re able to move the gas mains by Feb. 1, 2018 without causing outages inside of Holmes or affecting the playground. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com  

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