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Cost reductions needed!

SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley Elementary School Board continues to work out details for the expansion project for the John F. Kennedy school building.

On Wednesday, the school board met with architects from Allied Design of Springfield to discuss possible cost reductions for the John F. Kennedy School (JFK) expansion project.

The expansion project, which was bid out last month, has gone above 3.8 percent of the projected cost of $14.5 million. With contingencies, the board had anticipated the project’s price tag to be about $17.2 million, but the current cost is rounding closer to $18.6 million.

The state has awarded the school district about $12.2 million for the project, with the local share at about $4.7 million. The district is also hanging onto about $920,000 in bonds, which the school board plans to put toward construction.

In March, architects made plans to revisit the drawing board to come up with options for cost reductions in order to add air conditioning to the existing JFK building.

On Wednesday, architect Bill VanDusen provided an extensive list of “viable deducts,” which would accommodate adding air conditioning to the existing JFK building.

Among the possible deducts are using cheaper materials for floor tiles, roofing, outside wall construction, downgrading LED light fixtures, mechanical flush toilets over automatic, and eliminating side court basketball backstops and a power-operating gymnasium separator curtain.

“When you look at the total of the reductions, if you were to take all of them you would look at a savings of $660,000,” VanDusen said. “But, there are items in here that really probably should not be taken out of the building project and ought to be incorporated into the actual original construction.”

Board president Ray Nolasco expressed concerns about whether or not the cuts would be beneficial in the long run.

“Essentially, it’s a matter of cutting out some of these options that are incorporated into the listing of the saving measures or coming up with additional funds to supplement them,” VanDusen said. “Ultimately, you as a board will have to make a decision as to what direction you want to go with this. In order to do this, it’s going to be a bit of a sacrifice for the new building addition.”

Frank Maras of HDR Engineering presented available grant options that could help fund portions of the project, including grant ideas from Illinois Clean Energy Foundation and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

In response to the presentation, the board asked for the architects’ recommendations on what should not be cut from the list. VanDusen immediately recommended not to choose cheaper material for the outside of the building.

“This building is going to be here at least 50, 60, 70 years and obviously preference would be to retain the exterior brick work on the building primarily from an aesthetics standpoint,” he said. “When you go back to eliminating that brick and some of the accents we have on the building, it’s going to be a relatively dry warehouse building.” 

The board took no action at Wednesday’s meeting and decided to push back decision-making in order to take time to “mull over the options.”

VanDusen suggested the board not wait another month to make decisions and reassured the project would be delayed if put off longer.

In response, the board set a meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss cuts and make final conclusions. The board asked the architects to prepare information with their full suggestions on what they believe should not be taken out of the project plans and how much that would cost.

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