Full-day kindergarten plans move ahead

Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 expects to award construction contracts in February and borrow $24.6 million in June so the district can offer full-day kindergarten for the 2025-26 school year.

The board passed a resolution at its meeting Monday indicating it plans to reimburse “certain capital expenditures” from the bond issue. Any hard costs for labor and materials can be reimbursed out of the bond proceeds only if such a resolution is passed, said Mindy Bradford, assistant superintendent for business and operations.

District officials have been working with architects on bid documents, and the notice to bidders was set to be published today, facilities director Mike Duggan said. The plan is to open the bids at the board’s Jan. 18 meeting and award the contracts at the Feb. 12 meeting.

The work has been divided into four bids — two of which are for one school each (Oak and Walker) and two of which are for two schools each (Elm and The Lane paired in one, Monroe and Madison on the other).

“That was done based on dollar amount,” Duggan said. “We didn’t want to have one bid package be too high, because you lose a lot of bidders.”

While some contractors might be large enough to bid on all four packages, the district could end up choosing four separate contractors to do the work, he said.

Construction at all schools is estimated to cost $20.7 million, with another $5.7 million in expenses projected for furniture, fixtures and equipment; fees; and contingencies.

A revised timeline anticipates the board hiring an owner’s rep at its January meeting. Duggan said he has met with three candidates and plans to meet with a fourth this week.

Several firms are expected to bid on the project.

“The indication from the architect is that we’ll have quite a few. The owners reps that we talked to said quite a few, too,” commented Duggan, adding that he hopes for five or more per bid package.

Board members in February voted unanimously to begin planning for full-day kindergarten. Then this summer, Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 2396, requiring all Illinois districts to offer full-day kindergarten by the start of the 2027-28 school year.

Board member Bill Cotter noted the district has no choice but to borrow money to make the move to full-day kindergarten.

“The full-day kindergarten program, apart from the merits of it, this is a state mandate and there is no money attached,” he said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean