Bids released for PBL school expansion/renovation project; Eastlawn demolition on hold

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


PAXTON — The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board voted unanimously last Wednesday to release bids for the renovation and expansion of Clara Peterson Elementary School and the renovation of PBL High School.

Bidding on the project is due to begin Jan. 4 and end Feb. 4, with bids to be awarded at February’s board meeting.

David Norris, project executive at Gilbane Building Company’s Chicago location, told the board that a portion of the bid package had already been put together, while Chuck Reifsteck of Champaign’s Reifsteck-Reid Architects said the documents phase was wrapping up.

“We’re completing the construction documents phase this week, and we will make those documents available electronically and we’ll be able to go out to bid in early January,” Reifsteck said. “We’ll have a little coordination work to do before they go out to bid, but we’ll get that done and be ready then.”

Norris said the bid package would be put together electronically and sent to the district.

“We’ve already started to put the scope and bid packages together in a PDF of our project,” Norris said. “If we get into a situation where we have similar bids, we may adjust those bid packages ... by merging or breaking some of them apart.”

The schedule will allow for exactly one month of bidding, after which the final bid will be awarded.

“We may adjust the bid schedule by one or two days depending on when we actually go out to bid,” Norris said.

Norris said interested bidders would be able to inspect the to-be-renovated areas at PBL High School on Monday, Jan. 15, when there is no student attendance as a result of it being Martin Luther King Day.

“Bidders can walk through the renovated areas of the high school and bring ladders and scope the project out,” Norris said. “We’ll make sure that the school is locked up after that.”

The board agreed to separate the PBL Eastlawn School demolition project from the Clara Peterson Elementary School renovation/expansion project in case there is interest in saving the aging PBL Eastlawn School facility, which formerly housed Paxton Community High School students through the 1960s and junior high students until 2005.

Board member Steve Pacey noted that while the chances of redevelopment at the Eastlawn site are slim, he would still support a plan if one is offered.

“I don’t think anyone on this board wants another facility like Westlawn (School) or Loda (Grade School),” Pacey said, referencing the long-shuttered facilities in Paxton and Loda that are now privately owned and in a state of disrepair. “On the other hand, there might be a million reasons why we would look at trying to save (Eastlawn), and I think the taxpayers would be interested in that, as well.

“I don’t think it could happen, but never say ‘never’.”

Norris said he has recommended postponing demolition projects in the past, instead reconsidering them closer to the target date.

“Typically there is more of a cost involved in keeping a contract open, so in cases where the work is 14 months away, we have recommended in the past to hold off on that part until it gets closer to the start date,” Norris said. “Maybe next fall, you could get better coverage and you’re not responsible for keeping costs open.”

Per the agreement, the PBL Eastlawn School demolition project will be bid in fall 2018.

PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure asked board members about holding a committee meeting before the regular board meeting in January in order to review the project before bids are in. The board recommended holding a design team meeting in early January. McClure noted that design changes were implemented during a meeting in the fall, adding that more could pop up.

“We caught some things in the meeting before,” McClure said. “That’s not our wish, but through the committee process we’ve fixed some things.”

Pacey asked Norris about potential changes to the project bid, specifically whether those changes would be the district’s liability.

“During the construction process, if we say we want a change order, then it’s on us,” Pacey said. “If somebody comes along after we send out the bids and says we need to change the specifications, and it’s not us, whose responsibility is it?”

Reifsteck told Pacey that the design is not final yet, and changes could still be made.

“Part of the bidding process is that an agenda will go out because you’ll find discrepancies for the process,” Reifsteck said. “It’s not going to be perfect because we have thousands of pieces to the project.”

Norris added that a potential change could reduce the cost of the project.

“That question could be a cost-saving measure, so we could then specify to all bidders that it has to be done that way,” Norris said.

The board’s vice president, Dave Dowling, asked about the start date of construction. Norris said the project would start around mid-March, depending on the weather.

“Usually from the date of board meeting approval, it’s a good three to four weeks before construction actually begins,” Norris said. “During that time, the contractor has to provide proof of insurance. When all that is in, mobilization can commence. We’re really focusing on Clara Peterson since that building has the most areas that are affected by renovations and additions.”

The project’s financing was made possible through a voter referendum in fall 2016. In addition to renovating Clara Peterson Elementary School and the high school, the project involves building a 63,400-square-foot addition to the east of the existing elementary school building.

Other business
Also at last week's meeting:

➜ The board accepted the resignations of Melissa Olson as PBL Eastlawn School cook and Sherry Cambridge as a paraprofessional at Clara Peterson Elementary School, both effective at the end of the first semester of the current school year.

➜ The board accepted the resignation of Jessica Leverenz as junior high girls’ track coach, effective immediately. Leverenz told the board in a written statement that she is pursuing a master’s degree.

➜ The board granted maternity leave to Cassie Rohrbach, from March 17 through the end of the school year.

➜ The board approved as volunteer coaches: Kelsey Vaughn for high school softball and Garrett Rigsby and Greg Moen for sixth-grade boys’ basketball.

➜ The board approved the district’s annual tax levy, with Pacey dissenting. Pacey told board members to refer to his statement at last month’s meeting, when he said he did not want to vote for an additional tax for technology, even if it did not increase the amount levied from the previous year. McClure said the levy has a 2.965 overall rate and a 3.961 aggregate rate, though he said it is close to the previous year’s amount. “It should be revenue-neutral,” McClure said. “I don’t get an EAV (equalized assessed value) list from the county, but I tried to make it close to the same as last year’s.”

➜ The board voted not to release the minutes of old executive sessions. Meanwhile, the board voted to destroy audio recordings from meetings that are 18 months or older.

➜ McClure introduced a revised budget, which he said would be considered for approval at the January meeting. McClure said the revised version has changes in revenue and bond interest payments, as well as some money taken from the education fund and put into the transportation fund. “We’re lucky if we get any state aid payments this year,” McClure added.

➜ The board voted to buy a 2012 Chevrolet Uplander to replace a 2007 model that McClure said had fallen apart. McClure said the district used 15,000 to 20,000 miles each year on the old van, which he said might be good for four years with the new one.

➜ The board approved course changes and membership in Parkland College’s early transfer program for the upcoming school year.

➜ McClure told board members that evaluations will be done in February and March.

➜ McClure said the district’s 403(b) plan with third-party provider CPI has been bought by Omni, which is offering a new federally approved plan by 2020.

➜ The board approved a groundskeeper job description, which McClure said was negotiated with the faculty union.

➜ The board approved an environmental consultation contract for asbestos removal in conjunction with the construction projects, which McClure said would be finalized by Gilbane.
 

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