D200 starts negotiations with construction manager

Officials looking to hire Pepper Construction to oversee first phase of facilities work

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

During a special meeting on June 18, the Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 school board voted unanimously to authorize administrators to start negotiations with a construction manager to oversee the first phase of long-term facilities work at the high school. 

Administrators are negotiating with Chicago-based Pepper Construction Company and hope to finalize a contract in August. Pepper was chosen out of 11 firms that responded to a request for proposals. 

In a June 18 memo, District 200 Chief Operations Officer Mike Carioscio explained that officials recommended Pepper, because the company "responded completely and effectively to all aspects of the RFP," spent "more time onsite and in our own building at their own financial risk to gain a better understanding of the work" and demonstrated "a clear understanding" of the first phase facilities work at the high school, among other reasons.

Last December, the D200 school board approved the first phase of long-term facilities improvements included in the 10-year master facilities plan created by the Imagine OPRF working group. 

The first phase projects, which district officials said could cost an estimated $32.6 million, would include the renovation or construction of 76 general education classrooms, the reconstruction of the south cafeteria, the relocation of the library, the addition of all-gender bathrooms and the first phase of work on a new student commons area, among other capital improvements. The work would be funded by spending cash reserves. 

During a June 18 special meeting, Carioscio said that district officials still need to engage a construction manager before they can establish a construction timeline and provide updated cost estimates for the first phase of work. 

"In order to really provide you with a quality estimate of what the timeline would look like and to validate the costs that were presented by the Imagine team, we really felt that we had to have a number of things happen, but the main thing was the engagement of a construction manager," Carioscio said. "They're a key player in this estimate and absolutely essential for us to give you an estimate we feel we can live with, both in terms of the timeframe and in terms of cost." 

Carioscio said that once a construction manager is hired, the company will be able to dig deeper into Imagine OPRF's capital improvement recommendations. 

"One the things that keeps me awake at night is how we do this and minimize school disruption," he said, referencing the first phase work. "We're actually talking about taking the cafeteria down. We've got a bunch of kids we have to feed, so we have to figure that out, too. How do we manage all of this with minimal impact to school operations?"

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

Reader Comments

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Amanda Turnbull from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2019 4:03 PM

Brian and Bruce: this is Phase one. The master plan they approved (which is the area in which the board flatly ignored the message from voters) includes massive and unnecessary spending on athletics over academics. They have a blueprint which they can now use to defend everything because one phase butts up smoothly to the next phase and they've made it impossible to complete all the planned improvements for common areas and academics without their precious pool.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 3rd, 2019 3:47 PM

I agree Brian. I think it is literally the ONE thing the VoteYes and the vehement opposition agreed on. I know, by far and away, most of the original members in the Petition for Referendum (the original opposition to the inane giant pool) and its subsequent iteration, Pragmatic Solutions, agreed with this expenditure.

Brian Souders  

Posted: July 3rd, 2019 2:42 PM

Tom and Kevin: I was/am as passionate as anyone in opposition to a NASCAR pool and Imagine group overreach. But this isn't the scandal you're saying it is. The board approved moving forward on a first phase this Spring ?" a phase that is focused on academics, accessibility and student life. As far as I know, there's nothing in this phase creating a path for the NASCAR pool. (Though, yes, there are different ideas on the financing...)

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2019 11:00 AM

Tom MacMillan: Yes, this ignores the Facilities/Pool Referendum, which was largely for an over-sized pool, with other things as window dressing. This is only for the first stage of things, and there is much more to come. The inter-generational inequity is that ALL of this comes from existing cash, namely the over-taxation of the last many years. The generation that actually uses these improvements will pay nothing for the capital improvements. The money should have been given back, and then a bond referendum placed on the ballot. Why give money back, only to re-tax it? It's because it's two separate sets of people, two different generations, and two different time horizons. The Board and Administration do not understand matching costs with benefits. By August,/September, they will have had three different Chief School Business Officers . Their citizen committees have had little competency of the sort required. They're rudderless with regard to finances

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2019 9:39 AM

Great moment in ignoring referendum results and voters on a capital project.

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