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U-46 Board reviews 2020 capital projects list

By Seth Hancock
  School District U-46 is planning 36 capital projects in 2020 at a cost of $41.3 million according to a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday, Oct. 7.
  The projects are largely expected to take place next summer and will be primarily funded through the operations and maintenance fund along with $4 million coming from the fire prevention, life and safety fund.
  Jeff King, deputy superintendent of operations, said it was “a tentative list of next summer’s projects that we’ve started in the design phase for.”
  The largest project is a renovation and expansion of a wing at Elgin’s Larkin High School, which includes adding science labs for the career pathways, which is expected to cost $7 million. Work on the project is expected to begin earlier than most of the projects.
  “Just as a heads up, more than likely we’ll be coming back on that project because we’re thinking that’s more like a 13 to 16 week project,” King said. “So, we’re going to have to close off sections of the building after spring break and bring mobiles into the back of the building to accommodate classrooms.”
  Two other projects are expected to start earlier based on aging chillers, both absorber replacements at Elgin High School costing $3.1 million and at South Elgin High School costing $2.7 million. Sheila Downs, director of plant operations, said the district hopes to have that work completed over the winter in preparation for the warmer weather in spring.
  There were 11 total projects with an estimated cost at or above $1 million including interior work at the central building costing $5.5 million, renovation of Elgin High School’s Memorial Field costing $3.8 million as well as a domestic water project costing $1.3 million, work on steam boilers, unit ventilators and air chilled coolers at Elgin’s Harriet Gifford Elementary School costing $2.9 million, parking lot work at South Elgin’s Kenyon Woods Middle School costing $1.6 million, work for South Elgin High School’s academy costing $1.5 million, parking lot and vault work at Elgin’s Abbott Middle School costing $1 million and window replacements at Elgin’s Channing Elementary School costing $1 million.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked if this was a “more extensive” list compared to last year to which King said: “In actuality, we spent nearly the same amount last year. We were right around $40-plus million.”
  Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked if any other projects will take longer than the summer break and Downs said the Memorial Field project could possibly take longer and the district is considering “moving up the timeline.”
  Kerr also asked if there was enough staff to oversee the projects.
  “I can confidently say that we can manage these projects,” Downs said. “Our work load was very similar this past summer, and our team got it done.”
  Downs also said they are preparing to go out to bid earlier on projects compared to past years. She said the district has a goal to have 90 percent of the projects bid before winter break with a few more completed in the first couple of months of 2020.
  “My intention is that unless there’s something unforeseen that we will not be sending anything after April,” Downs said.




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