DANVILLE — District 118 school board Wednesday night moved forward with plans to renovate East Park Elementary School, the third and final school to be improved in the district’s three-year renovation project.
With bids for the base project and alternate work coming in substantially less than architects’ estimates and Tuesday’s bond sale netting the district $8.2 million plus another $4.3 million the district already had set aside, building and grounds director Ron Henton recommended board members approve the base project plus Option 2 of the alternate work for a total cost of $12.5 million.
“The bids have come in favorably,” Henton said. “We won’t get this opportunity again because of the economy.”
Option 2 entails the construction of a new cafeteria with a seating capacity of 448 and a new kitchen built in the large grassy area to the south of the main entrance of school. The architects originally estimated the total cost of the project including Option 2 to be about $14,050,000, but bids for the work came in $1.5 million less than the estimates.
Option 1 would have entailed constructing a cafeteria but not a new kitchen.
Henton said East Park students eat lunch in a commons area surrounded by classrooms and the noise is disruptive to the nearby classes.
Henton added that “there are inefficiencies in the 50-year-old kitchen.”
Still, board members Frank Young and Dan Brown said they were unsure about spending all the money on a new kitchen and a new cafeteria.
“I’m not sure of the benefit of the cafeteria. Why not do the school (renovations) and just the kitchen and not the cafeteria? It’s $2 million less,” Young said, adding he was worried about exhausting the district’s reserves.
“My concern is going with the top project (Option 2) and spending everything we have,” Young said. “I’m not convinced a cafeteria is as important in an elementary school as it is in a junior high.