East Park renovation up for vote in Danville

DANVILLE — The Danville school district's third and final major building renovation could move forward next week.

School board members on Wednesday will vote on whether to approve final design plans for the East Park Elementary School renovation project. The school board will meet at 6:30 p.m at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St., Danville. A copy of the agenda is available online at http://www.danville.k12.il.us.

Superintendent Mark Denman said architects with Schmidt Associates are preparing a base-bid option, which will include adding a sloped roof, replacing the original windows with energy-efficient ones, installing a new HVAC system and updating plumbing and electrical systems.

He said the Indianapolis firm also is preparing alternate-bid options. One calls for building a new cafeteria onto the school's existing kitchen, while another calls for building a new cafeteria and kitchen onto the building.

Unlike the first two projects, at South View and North Ridge middle schools, East Park doesn't need a cafetorium, Denman said. However, he added, school officials would like to build a cafeteria and turn the three commons areas — where students currently eat breakfast and lunch — into additional learning areas.

"While we'd really like a new cafeteria, we'll have to see how the bids come in," he said, adding the work must not exceed a general budget that officials set for all three projects.

Officials were pleased with the construction costs for South View and North Ridge, which at $12.3 million and $13.8 million came in under architects' estimates. Architects have estimated the East Park project could run between $11.7 million and $12.3 million.

In 2011, the district issued up to $17.5 million in general obligation school bonds and up to $6.75 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds to help finance the renovations and other urgent health-life safety projects in district, without increasing the district's tax rate.

Later this fall, the school board will consider issuing another $6.5 million in bonds to help fund the rest of the work, business and finance director Heather McKiernan said. Representatives from PMA Financial/Stifel-Nicolaus, the district's bond adviser and underwriter, will be at the Oct. 24 board meeting to get that under way.

"Originally, it was $8 million, but we had to reduce that because our (equalized assessed valuation of property in the district) went down," McKiernan said, adding the district will use more of its operations funds for the balance.

"We do not want to impact the tax rate," Denman added. "We've tried to very intentionally put money aside for these buildings."

If all goes as planned, Denman said, separate bids for general contracting, electrical, plumbing and mechanical work would go out the first week of November and be opened the first week of December, meaning board members could vote on whether to award contracts on Dec. 12. The renovation work could start after the school's 800-plus pre-K-fifth-grade students leave for Christmas break.

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