Bond project work to begin at Howard-Ellis next month

The Niles school board cleared the way for the first of several bond construction projects to begin by awarding bids for a major addition and renovation project at Howard-Ellis Elementary School at Monday’s regular meeting.

Last spring, voters approved a pair of proposals totaling $40 million that will fund the work. Howard-Ellis is the first of four buildings that will be worked on this spring, including Ballard Elementary, Ring Lardner Middle School and Eastside Connections.

Work on the remaining buildings — Niles High, Northside, Oak Manor and Southside — is scheduled to start next spring.

Bids awarded for the Howard-Ellis project total just more than $5.5 million, which is about 2 1/2 percent (or $140,000) over budget, according to Duane Wixson, an employee of the project management company Skillman Corp.

Wixson said the district would cover the overage by dipping into the project’s contingency balance, which is set aside for when unforeseen problems arise. He said each individual building project has about 10 percent of the project’s total cost set aside as a contingency balance.

The contingency balance for Howard-Ellis is approximately $510,000, so there is more than enough to cover the overage, he said.

The project includes an addition and renovations throughout the Howard building, including updates to safety and technology.

Ellis, a separate building neighboring Howard, currently houses kindergarten and first-grade students, while Howard has second- through fifth-grade students.

Ellis will eventually be closed once Howard is ready to accommodate the extra students.

Work is expected to begin in early May.

Michelle Asmus, principal of Howard-Ellis, said staff is excited to finally have everyone under one roof.

“Our kids do a beautiful job of transitioning, but there isn’t that continuity of staff,” Asmus said. “Everyone loves to visit their kindergarten teacher and kindergarten teachers love to keep tabs on their former students. There is a big disconnect there when they leave Ellis. They don’t get to physically see each other. That is what we are most looking forward to.”

Wixson said the total cost of the Howard-Ellis project is approximately $7.9 million when including soft costs, which accounts for things that are not considered direct constructional costs such as architectural fees and construction management fees.

Also Monday, the school board awarded bids for mechanical equipment and controls throughout the district. Supt. Dan Applegate said awarding the bids all at once allowed the district to save money.

Wixson said the board would award bids for work on Ballard, Ring Lardner and Eastside next month. Construction for each of the projects in phase one is expected to be complete by the fall of 2017.

Applegate said the district would plan a groundbreaking ceremony for sometime next month, but the date has not yet been determined.

Below is a list of the bids awarded by the board Monday:

Construction contracts awarded
(Description — Contractor, Cost)
Sitework — C&E Excavating, $317,000
Asphalt paving — Walsh & Kelly, $71,414
Concrete — Brown & Brown, $305,000
Masonry — Person Construction, $769,900
Structural steel — Structural Steel Services, $380,000
Roofing — Slatile Roofing & Sheet Metal, $73,812
Metal studs/drywall — Gibson-Lewis, $269,800
Casework — Architectural systems, $171,700
Glazing — J.W. Werntz, $339,000
Gym floor — Floor Care Concepts, $65,054
Painting — H&H Painting, $145,410
Flooring — Interior Finishes, $248,000
Plumbing — BC Mechanical, $295,000
Mechanical — D.A. Dodd, $1,478,500
Electrical — Mead & White Electric, $610,306
TOTAL — $5,539,896

Mechanical contracts awarded
(Description — Contractor, cost)
Boilers — Howley Agency, $791,975
Controls — Vertex Integration, $363,184
Vertical unit ventilators — Bolhouse Company, $1,809,040
Rooftop units — $455,936

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