District 200 administrators have narrowed down to a concrete timeline and more defined cost estimates related to the first phase of capital improvements at the high school. 

During a Committee of the Whole meeting last month, Mike Carioscio, D200’s chief operations officer; Josh Czerniak, of FGM architects; and Lanec Tritsch, of Peppers Construction Company presented a construction timeline that represents a compromise between the more aggressive preference of the school board and the more conservative option favored by the administration.   

Back in August, Carioscio presented the board with two timeline options. The administration favored the option that called for work on the south cafeteria, student common and special education improvements to start in 2021, with classroom renovations starting in 2022 and 2023. 

The board favored an option that called for construction on the south cafeteria to start in June 2020, while work on special education improvements, the student common and classroom renovations to start in 2021. The remaining work would take place in 2022. 

During the Committee of the Whole meeting on Sept. 17, however, Carioscio presented a hybrid option, considered a compromise between what the board favored and what the administration recommended. 

What Carioscio called Option 1.5 would start work on the south cafeteria and student resource center, all-gender bathrooms, and a test phase of classroom construction that would include up to five classroom renovations, among other improvements, in summer 2020. The remaining work, which would include the renovation or construction of around 70 additional classrooms, and the construction of a new student common area near the main entrance, would be extended out to the summer of 2023. 

Carioscio also presented a revision of the $32.6 million cost estimate related to phase one construction that was devised by Imagine OPRF — the committee formed in the spring of 2017 to create the high school’s 10-year, long-term facilities master plan. The school board approved that plan in December 2018. 

Now that professional architects and contractors have been able to do a deeper dive Imagine OPRF’s recommendations, Carioscio said, the revised estimate of phase one projects, which was done by Peppers Construction, has increased to $37.3 million — a difference of roughly $4.6 million. 

Carioscio and his team pointed to five factors that contributed to the differences in cost between Imagine’s estimate and Peppers’ estimate. Those factors included the difference in the construction contingency (Imagine’s estimate includes a 12 percent design and construction contingency while Pepper Construction Company’s estimate includes a 15 percent contingency). 

Imagine’s original estimate also included 50 percent new construction and 50 percent renovation for the South Cafeteria and Student Resource Center while Peppers’ current design and estimate includes 100 percent new construction. Peppers’ estimate also includes a new four-stop elevator, which wasn’t included in the Imagine estimate. 

“What Imagine set out to do was create a prioritized list of the needs of the district, put those together and come up with some rough estimates,” Carioscio said. “This isn’t saying they didn’t do a good job. As we’re going through what they did, compared to what actually has to happen to get the scope of work done, we’re finding these differences.” 

He identified a series of actions that could be taken to cut construction costs, but cautioned that the project budget is still being shaped and could change as the design and construction process evolves. 

Caroscio added that this month, he and his team will present a report on how the construction might impact the way the school operates, particularly how it might interfere with summer school. In November, he said, they’ll present conceptual designs, including virtual walkthroughs of the space. And in December, he said, they’ll have “better numbers, a better idea of scope — what makes sense to do and what makes sense not to do.”

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com  

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