BY CAROL ROEHM
Danville School District 118 board members approved architectural plans Wednesday night for renovation work at East Park Elementary School, allowing the project to go out to bid.
East Park, formerly a junior high school until the 1980s, is the third and final school to be improved in the district’s three-year renovation project. South View Middle School was renovated in 2010-2011, and work at North Ridge Middle School is on schedule with completion expected in mid-December.
All three facilities originally were constructed as junior high schools in 1961.
Architects from Schmidt Associates of Indianapolis estimated the cost of the East Park project, without any alternates, to be between $10.75 million and $11.75 million.
The renovation work at South View cost $12.3 million, while renovations at North Ridge cost $13.8 million.
The renovation projects were budgeted in such a way as to not affect the local school tax rate, but East Park is the last and the largest of the three schools to be improved, and the money that is available will dictate how much will be renovated at East Park.
East Park has more square footage than the other two schools, and architect Duane Dart said, “The goal of (keeping the renovations at) $12 million will be a challenge.”
Superintendent Mark Denman told school board members, “We are at the end of a three-year construction project and money is an issue.”
The East Park project will be put out to bid in four packages — general contractor, electrical, plumbing and mechanical — during the first week of November, with bids being presented to the school board at its Dec. 12 meeting and contracts hopefully being awarded Dec. 13.
Renovation work could possibly start as soon as Christmas break, with the work on the existing building being substantially completed in mid-August 2013.
The base project includes installing a new roof, replacing the sidewalks around the school, grading the land around the building, replacing drainage pipes and making them larger in the courtyards, replacing the fixtures and repairing the restrooms, creating two new classrooms in a commons area that might be used as computer labs and paving the school’s parking lot as well as the road around the school that connects to Colfax Street.
Unlike South View and North Ridge, the lockers — which are a leftover from its junior high days — won’t be replaced at East Park because elementary school children don’t use lockers. The existing lockers will be removed.
The possibility of building a cafetorium like at South View and North Ridge has been ruled out. However, depending on how the bids come in, school board members will consider two options that could be added to the architects’ base bid.
Option 1 would entail constructing an addition to the east side of the gymnasium for a cafeteria with a seating capacity of 448 that would adjoin the existing kitchen. That alternate work is estimated to cost an additional $1.55 million to $1.65 million
Option 2 would entail 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 the school. That alternate work is estimated to cost an additional $2.2 million to $2.3 million.
“The old kitchen would be left as is until we have a future purpose for that space,” Denman said. “We’d probably use it as kitchen storage.”
Creating a cafeteria or separate eating area at East Park would provide additional space for meetings and remove students from the main school area where classes are going on.
However, Denman told the school board, “Due to the decreasing amount of EAV (equalized assessed valuation), there is less money, and the board might elect to do the base bid without a cafeteria.”
Bond advisers will attend the next school board meeting on Oct. 24, with bonds possibly being issued at the Nov. 14 school board meeting.
Business Director Heather McKiernan said she had hoped there would be $8 million left for the East Park project, but since the EAV of the area has declined, the district has received less in its property tax levy in recent years.
McKiernan recommends the district issue $6.5 million in bonds, while still trying to maintain the current tax rate. Any additional money needed for the project would come from the district’s operational fund, she said.
Denman told the board that the declining EAV also affects the district’s bonding power.
Also on Wednesday, school board members: