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D-41 to move forward with bid process for $15.6M classroom project

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 3:10 p.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn School District 41 will move forward with the bid process for its proposed project to add 16 elementary school classrooms across four buildings for an estimated cost of about $15.6 million.

The Board of Education unanimously authorized district staff to solicit bids for the entire project, although District 41 will initially begin the bid process solely for work that can be completed this upcoming summer.

District 41 currently uses 32 portable classrooms, 22 of which are located at its elementary schools. The plan seeks to decrease the district's reliance on portable space by building four new classrooms at each of its four elementary school buildings.

The project would bring about 400 students out of portables and into elementary school buildings, leaving four portable classrooms at Churchill Elementary School and two at Lincoln Elementary School, according to district records.

The classroom project is phase one of a proposed multi-phase plan to address district facility issues.

Plans for phase two could include building a new 550-student elementary school at the old Spalding School site to balance elementary populations in the district or creating a magnet school. Building a new school would require a referendum.

The second phase could also entail adding parking at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School and building classroom space to eliminate portables at Hadley Junior High School, as well as completing interior renovations at Hadley.

Although board Vice President John Kenwood voted in favor of moving forward with the bid process in order to learn more exact costs for phase one, he said he was concerned with whether the project designs take into account potential changes at the schools, including the possibility of adding full-day kindergarten.

Ron Richardson, vice president with FGM Architects, said the firm would need to gather more data on full-day kindergarten, but of the schools, at least Churchill Elementary would be prepared for future expansion.

"Right now what we're saying is rather than wait until we have a perfect plan that we can somehow sell to the community, we would like to take a step now to get something done that's tangible and start to make these improvements," board Secretary Dean Elger said. "Things could happen in the next two, three years before we ever even get to a phase two discussion that could change our mind on what that plan is."

The classroom space included in phase one would be needed if the district added full-day kindergarten, whether a new elementary school is built or not, because two more teachers would need to be added at each building, Gordon said.

"That is not just a nice thing to have in the short term," he said.

While the exact method of phase one funding remains undecided, the district is considering paying for construction and site work with a combination of reserve funds and alternative funding, which would not require a referendum or impact property taxes.

Soft project costs are expected to come from District 41's operating budget.

Bids for phase one work at Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln elementary schools will be due in January, with board approval expected in March. Construction would start in June if the district accepts a bid. Work at the other two elementary schools is anticipated for summer 2015.

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