Bids to be opened for school renovation/expansion project

PAXTON — Sealed bids will be opened Friday for the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district’s largest construction project in more than a decade, and Superintendent Cliff McClure is pleased with the number of bidders.

“I’m happy with what we have,” McClure said Tuesday. “We’ve had a great response. The more competition, the better that is for the district.”

McClure said the district’s construction management firm — Chicago-based Gilbane Inc. — will manage the opening of the bids at noon Friday in PBL High School’s Little Assembly room. The bid opening was rescheduled from its original date of Jan. 30.

There are 21 bid packages for the project, which calls for tearing down the district’s oldest school — PBL Eastlawn School — and building an addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School to house Eastlawn’s third- through fifth-graders. The project also involves renovations to both Clara Peterson and PBL High School and upgrading those schools’ electrical, mechanical and heating/ventilation/air-conditioning systems. 

The project — to be financed through the issuance of $31.45 million in building bonds authorized by a voter referendum in 2016 — will be the biggest capital-improvement project PBL has undertaken since 2005, when a new junior high school was built.

The 21 bid packages are for different aspects of the project, but some contractors are bidding on multiple packages “because they can do a lot of these things,” McClure noted.

For example, “some companies can do concrete and site work, and vice versa,” McClure said.

“A large majority” of the bid packages have at least three bidders, McClure said.

“We have at least two prospective bidders for each package, but in most cases we have up to five,” McClure said. “And some of the mechanical packages have up to six or seven.”

At Clara Peterson, there are bid packages for such things as site work, utilities, concrete, masonry, structural steel, general trades, roofing, doors and windows, drywall, painting, athletic flooring, food service equipment, case work, fire suppression, plumbing, mechanical and electrical work, McClure said.

At the high school, there are bid packages for general trades, demolition, mechanical, heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) and electrical work, McClure said.

The only aspects of the project not put out for bids yet — because those parts of the project are “too far out,” McClure said — are the demolition of Eastlawn and the removal of asbestos from that school. Asbestos removal is not expected to occur until summer 2019, and the demolition of Eastlawn may not even happen if another use for the school can be found, McClure noted.

Bid packets were sent to prospective bidders on Jan. 4, McClure said. After Friday’s bid opening, Gilbane Inc. will review the bids received, looking at the “critical” packages first — those  aspects of the project that need to be done sooner rather than later, McClure said. Then, on Feb. 7, Gilbane Inc. will provide a letter to the school board recommending the awarding of bids for those critical packages, McClure said. The board will then vote on the awarding of bids for the critical packages during its Feb. 14 meeting.

Weather permitting, McClure hopes to break ground on the project in mid-March.

“The first thing is we’ll start breaking ground on the addition (at Clara Peterson),” McClure said. “That’s the first work that will start taking place, depending on the weather and just getting everything situated logistically.

“Then some demo, electrical and HVAC work will take place at both Clara Peterson and the high school this summer. Just below the floor and above the ceiling is mostly what will happen this summer. We’ll prepare for the mechanical to be installed the following summer.”

Earlier this month, Brian Mrozek of Gilbane Inc. said 73 firms had expressed interest in the project. Chuck Reifsteck, president of Champaign-based Reifsteck and Reid Architects, said a walk-through was held at PBL High School on Martin Luther King Day, when the building was empty. Mrozek said six contractors came and did an inspection of the building.

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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