Later start, later end to 2019-20 school year expected at PBL

PAXTON — Students in the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district may not start the 2019-20 school year until after Labor Day and may not be let out for summer break until nearly mid-June as a result of setbacks in building an addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School and renovating that same school.

Superintendent Cliff McClure presented the school board Wednesday with a pair of proposed calendars for next school year, each showing the first day of attendance would be no earlier than Tuesday, Sept. 3, and, as a result of the late start, the last day of classes being pushed back to the second week of June.

“Have we ever had a school year that’s gone into the second week of June?” board member Steve Pacey of Paxton asked McClure.

“Really, there’s not a lot of ways around it, other than if we would maybe decrease the Christmas holiday break,” McClure responded, adding that he could check to see if the district’s labor union would support such a move.

“I don’t like it either,” McClure continued, noting students will have a shorter-than-usual summer break in 2020.

“We’re going to try to get right back to basically more of what we would call around here a ‘regular schedule’ (for the 2020-21 school year),” McClure said, “so students will probably go back to school in the middle of the second week or possibly the beginning of the third week of August (after their summer break in 2020). So it will be a quick turnaround that next year.”

McClure said the proposed later start to the school year than normal — and the subsequent delay in releasing kids for the summer — is due to the amount of work that remains to be done next summer on the renovation of Clara Peterson Elementary School and the construction of a two-story, 63,400-square-foot addition to the school’s east side.

The construction of the addition was originally expected to be completed early next summer but now is not expected to be finished until Aug. 2, said Brian Mrozek, project manager for Chicago-based Gilbane Inc., the district’s construction-management firm.

Meanwhile, more work is expected to still need to be completed over the summer on the renovation of the existing school, as well, Mrozek said.

“Our schedule, because of weather delays and stuff, has slipped back,” Mrozek said. “We’re in a recovery schedule right now.”

Working overtime
Mrozek said steel erectors have been working overtime to help try to make up the lost ground. Much of the remaining work, however, is “weather dependant,” Mrozek said.

The new addition is not yet closed up, Mrozek said. Temporary windows are being installed, and heaters are being used to heat newly poured concrete slabs to prevent them from freezing, he said.

In the next couple of weeks, window framing is expected to arrive at the construction site, with glazing to follow, Mrozek said.
Masonry work has been dependant on the weather, but Mrozek said “some good progress” was made recently on the south side of the new addition as “we got some warm weather.”

Mrozek said progress was also being made on the new addition’s gymnasium.

“The gym steel deck is down, and hopefully we’ll be shooting Nelson studs this weekend up on that deck,” Mrozek said. “The first-floor deck should be completed by Friday (Dec. 14). We’re shooting Nelson studs down on that, as well.

“If everything goes as planned, we’re looking for a pour mid- to late next week on the gym roof, and then potentially we may get half of the second floor poured, as well. A lot of that will just be weather-dependant there.”

Roofing work is getting under way, as well, Mrozek said.

“We should be getting the vapor barrier done (Dec. 13), weather-depending, or shortly thereafter,” Mrozek said.

Meanwhile, the kitchen area of the new addition is set to receive more drywall, with one side of it already done.

Playground equipment
The board voted Wednesday to authorize McClure to order playground equipment for the grounds around Clara Peterson School. The board also authorized him to pay for the existing equipment at PBL Eastlawn School to be moved to Clara Peterson and be re-installed there. Next fall, PBL Eastlawn School’s third- through fifth-graders will move in to the new addition.

One of the playgrounds will be used by students in pre-kindergarten through first grade, while the other will be for students in second through fifth grades, McClure said. Rubber mulch will be put down around both of them, McClure said.

The cost of the new playground equipment and moving and re-installing the old equipment is estimated to be $167,595, McClure said.

There will also be an estimated $30,000 more in expenses to put a concrete border around both playgrounds, a concrete sidewalk leading to the playgrounds and a concrete basketball court near them, as well as to install a fence around them, McClure said.

McClure said he feels “pretty confident” the costs will end up being under the $250,000 that was budgeted for the playground work. McClure noted that he hopes to save some costs by having volunteers from the community help install the rubber mulch, rather than a contractor.

Furniture to be ordered
The board also voted to authorize McClure to spend up to $701,000 on new furniture for the existing Clara Peterson Elementary School and its new addition.

Every classroom in both the existing school and addition, as well as the offices and media center, will receive new furniture, McClure said.

While the board set the $701,000 spending limit, McClure said he doubts that much will need to be spent.

Technology, asbestos removal
The board also voted to authorize McClure to solicit bids for the installation of technology for the new addition — specifically the installation of Ethernet cable — as well as bids for the removal of asbestos from PBL Eastlawn School next summer.

The district is tentatively planning to tear down Eastlawn, the district’s oldest school building, after the new Clara Peterson addition is built.

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