Timeline discussed for Niles school bond projects
Published 9:19 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Those in charge of managing a $40 million construction project at Niles Community Schools released new details about the next steps for the project at Monday’s regular school board meeting, including which schools are first in line for work.
Voters approved the project in a special election in May.
Eduardo Blanc, of TMP Architecture, said the project would be split into two phases with construction on the first phase beginning as early as the spring of 2016.
Howard-Ellis Elementary, Ring Lardner Middle School, Eastside Connections and Ballard Elementary School are all included in TMP’s plans phase one construction.
Oak Manor, Niles High School, Southside and Northside are included in phase two, tentatively scheduled to begin in 2017.
The first phase is expected to take between 14 and 18 months to complete.
At a price tag of $8 million, Howard-Ellis Elementary will receive the most work among the projects in phase one. Howard-Ellis currently exists as two buildings, but will be combined into one with Ellis closing. Blanc said they would add eight new classrooms, new restrooms, a new central office space and a new gymnasium at Howard-Ellis.
Ring Lardner is projected to receive $7.5 million worth of work, including four new classrooms
Eastside, at a $3.6 million price tag, will get an elevator.
There are no additions planned at Ballard, which will cost $4.7 million.
All four schools in phase one will receive extensive renovations throughout.
Mike Kounelis, of Skillman — the company handling construction management for the project — said they would focus on finishing the additions first to decrease the likelihood of the district having to rent portable classrooms.
Supt. Michael Lindley said the district could not use bond money to pay for portables.
“I think the approach right now is to try to not bring any portables into the district as much as possible,” Kounelis said. “Portables become expensive and are not very effective and efficient for the school district.”
Blanc said TMP is in the process of coming up with more detailed plans for projects that would take place in each building in phase one. He said those plans would be develope in partnership with school staff and community stakeholders.
Once the final plans are in place, Kounelis said the projects would be aggressively marketed to contractors, which would need to satisfy numerous state requirements for insurance and bonding.
When asked by board member Jeff Curry if they would consider local contractors for the work, Kounelis said they would do their best to include them, while following state guidelines.
“If there are some of the smaller contractors that can’t meet those requirements, we can team them up with the other folks so they still have a opportunity to participate as a subcontractor and be part of the project,” he said. “We want nothing more than for your dollars to stay as local as possible.”