D181 eyes $3.5 million in summer work

The Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 Board has given administrators the green light to prepare the specifications and bidding documents for $3.5 million in facility improvement projects proposed for the summer of 2023.

At Monday night’s meeting, board members authorized the projects following a presentation by Mike Duggan, the district’s director of facilities.

The costliest projects on the list include an estimated $500,000 for floor replacement and moisture mitigation at The Lane School; $476,000 for remodeling at Oak School to create two additional classrooms along with meeting and office spaces; and $476,000 to remodel the media resource center at Elm School, which involves replacing nine classrooms and offices surrounding the MRC that were constructed with temporary, non-soundproof metal walls.

Additionally, Monroe School’s MRC will be renovated with new equipment, interiors and furnishings for an estimated $238,000; The Lane School playlot and parking lot will be replaced for a projected $238,000; and both Monroe and The Lane will receive door and hardware security upgrades for an estimated $178,000-$238,000 each.

Duggan stated that the district generally tries to keep the total cost of work at $2 million or lower. But in his memo to the board, he cited expiring replacement cycles and increased security concerns as driving factors behind the larger than normal projected capital outlay. And an acute need for classroom, office and collaborative space at Oak for next fall compelled officials to advance that project on the schedule.

“This is our fifth year of our rolling 10-year master facilities plan,” Duggan said, noting that last summer’s $2.5 million price tag also exceeded the average. “Each year the plan is tweaked to include the highest-priority projects.”

Board member Sinead Duffy, chair of the board’s finance committee, said the increasingly stringent requirements in areas such as school security measures and playground accessibility usually translates into higher costs

“Now that we’re making playgrounds more accessible for everybody, the type of costs involved in a playground today versus 10 years ago are significantly different,” Duffy said. “The requirements for schools and for the district are very different.”

Duggan shared that assessment.

“(The estimates) are out of date, so we try to increase them every year, adjust them every year based on the most current information,” Duggan told board members.

Duggan expects to provide the board with firmer cost numbers in February after bids have been received.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean