Behind the Blueprints: Central utilities, minority contracts, South Side plans

Behind the Blueprints: Central utilities, minority contracts, South Side plans

WARNING: Work on relocating Central High School's utilities may result in traffic delays this weekend.

Park Avenue won't be closed on Saturday, but workers with Ameren Illinois may move into the road at New and Lynn streets during the day, possibly resulting in some delays, Unit 4 officials say.

It's part of continued efforts to pave the way for serious construction to begin in earnest next spring on the $87.1 million expansion and renovation of Central.

Minority report

One of the ways Unit 4 officials say they want to be intentional in spending referendum dollars is by investing specific percentages into women- or minority-owned businesses.

So they've bumped up their goals for both categories — 12 percent of the work should go to minority businesses and 8 percent to women-owned businesses — and coordinated outreach efforts with Coleman & Associates, a Chicago-based accounting firm.

Of the $5,497,925 total awarded to bidders so far, $223,668 has gone to minority-owned businesses (4 percent) and $150,686 has gone to women-owned businesses (2.7 percent).

"Right now, we're not meeting our goal at this point," said Elizabeth Stegmaier, Unit 4's director of capital projects and planning. But, she added, it's still early in the district's schedule of referendum-related work.

Illinois School Code doesn't allow the district to award bids based on diversity goals; instead, Stegmaier said, the lowest bidder wins.

South Side night set

Plans for the $11.1 million South Side Elementary project will be on display during a district-sponsored open house set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the school gym.

South Side parent Jill Gengler said the community has seen some images before, but not these "more finalized" ones.

"Everyone is excited because South Siders love our school, and we love our small, traditional building, but we also want the best resource for our children," she said. "(The project) is a mix of the best of those things."

One thing people are particularly excited about?

"That our school will finally be accessible to all of our students," she said.