DANVILLE — While the Danville school board postponed a vote on approving a proposed long-term strategic plan for the district on Wednesday, it did take a big step toward addressing two goals — completing the North Ridge Middle School renovation project and bringing the alternative education programs under one roof.
Board members awarded about $13.76 million in work contracts for the North Ridge project, and they approved an agreement to lease the Holy Family School building to house the alternative programs.
For the North Ridge project, the board approved a general construction bid from McDowell Builders of Sidell for about $7.72 million. That includes a base bid of about $7.47 million; $212,208 to resurface the American Legion's drive on the south side of the school, which buses use to load and unload students; and $36,863 to install windows in the gymnasium.
The board approved an electrical bid from Glesco Electric Inc. of Urbana for $1.32 million. It also approved mechanical and plumbing bids from F.J. Strahl of Danville for about $3.73 million and $992,989 million respectively.
Buildings and grounds director Ron Henton said all of the firms were the lowest responsible bidders — F.J. Strahl was actually the sole plumbing bidder — and all of the bids met specifications.
The project is the second of three major renovations the district is doing over a three-year period. It is wrapping up a renovation at South View Middle School, and it will renovate East Park Elementary School in 2013. The buildings, which were all built in 1960 and share the same design flaws, have been the district's most problematic schools.
School officials were pleased with the bids, which were estimated at about $15.8 million and came in just under $13.76 million. Superintendent Mark Denman said the district will be able to put that savings toward the East Park project.
Plans call for making some of the same improvements that were made at South View this year, including replacing the flat roof with a sloped one, updating mechanical systems, installing energy-efficient windows and doors, converting commons areas into classrooms, painting the building and building a cafetorium on the east side of the school just north of the gym, among other things.
Henton said construction is expected to begin in February or March.
Under the agreement with Holy Family Church, the district will lease the old Catholic preK-8 school, which closed in May, from Feb. 1 through June 30, 2013, for $18,000.
Under the agreement, the district would have the option to buy the property for $246,200 with the rent and $120,000 in earnest money going toward the purchase price. As a condition of the closing, the church would demolish the original St. Patrick's School building, the two-story building on the west end of the property, and transfer electrical services from the old building to the newer section.
The newer section on the east side has about 12,000 square feet of spacious classrooms, offices, a gymnasium, kitchen and cafeteria, restrooms, furniture, a security system and air conditioning and is move-in ready. The district would have to clean the building, possibly do some painting and install telephones, computer systems and classroom technology to get it ready for students and staff by August.
The alternative education programs, which serve about 130 full-time students and 40 to 50 students in the Truant's Alternative and Optional Education Program that rotate in and out from the high school throughout the day, are housed in the basement of the Jackson Building and the Laura Lee Fellowship House.
Officials said centralizing the programs has long been a goal. They said now they can consider expanding the programs and increasing the number of students they serve.