On November 6, 2018, registered voters in Maine Township High School District 207 approved a ballot question to issue bonds to address facility improvements at Maine East, Maine South and Maine West high schools. For the past year, the District has been working diligently to ensure the upgrades and renovations would begin in the spring of 2020.
Key milestones since the voters approved the measure have included:
- Hiring Wight and Company as the architects for the project.
- Hiring Pepper Construction as the Construction Management firm.
- Working with school teams to gather feedback on how the instructional spaces could be remodeled and reconfigured to enhance learning opportunities for students and facilitate additional collaboration between educators.
- Planning and prioritizing the $240.7 million in projects to stay within budget that includes $195 million from the ballot question and $45.7 million from reserve funds.
- Gathering feedback from all educators on furniture and fixtures in the renovated spaces.
- Selling a majority of the bonds at lower interest rates than were originally projected when the community voted on the referendum which will result in the anticipated cost to taxpayers being lowered by approximately $46 million dollars.
With all that work in the rearview mirror, the community can now see what the spaces within the schools will look like when the projects are completed as tentative renderings recently were shared with the Board of Education. A PowerPoint presentation that includes floor plans and tentative renderings of some of the Phase 1 spaces has been developed. Those presentations are included below:
“The goal has been to design high quality spaces in the schools for students to learn, innovate and collaborate while staying within our allocated budget,” says Assistant Superintendent for Business Mary Kalou. “I am proud of the work the team has put in so far, and while we have a long way to go, it is exciting to share with the community where we stand in the process to date.”
The work will be phased in order to maximize construction during times when students are not in school – spring break, summer break and winter break over the next three years. While work will still be done during times when students are in session, phasing the projects will minimize the work being completed during school days. The initial work at each school will begin during spring break of 2020. Phase 1 projects that will be completed before school starts for the 2020-21 school year include:
- Some classroom renovations at all three schools (these will be staged over the four years of projects).
- Secured entrances at all three schools.
- Nurse’s office move and renovation at East (to facilitate the secured entrance).
- Career and Technical Education renovations at South and West.
- Visual arts classroom renovations at South.
Projects that will be started in Phase 1 but not completed before the start of school include:
- Athletic addition, visual arts classroom renovations and special education spaces at East.
- Hallway connector behind the school between the main academic wing (A wing) and the school, glass replacement in the front and rear of the school and the cafeteria addition at South.
- The fieldhouse construction at West.
Other recent updates related to construction include:
District-wide Construction Team/Building Construction Teams: Teams at the school level have selected the finishes and colors for the Phase 1 projects. These colors and finishes will continue through the remaining phases.
Weekly Core Group Meeting: Members of this team include Wight, Pepper, Director of Facilities. Technology and Assistant Superintendent for Business. This group is working on all aspects of the project including technical items such as school modeling, school space field verification, due diligence, deferred maintenance items. phasing, soil borings and topographical/utility surveys. This group is moving into contracts, final Phase 1 construction documents and phasing of all projects. Coordination of all the various areas and items continues to be a priority.
Model Classrooms: Due to the scope of classroom furniture, it will be ordered in two stages. Teacher storage items and new spaces will be ordered for Phase 1 for the start of the school year. Student furniture in renovated classrooms will be ordered for delivery during winter break 2020. This will allow additional item in ordering and for off peak installation.
Design: Phase 1 space designs are being finalized. Spaces being renovated in Phase 2 and 3 will be reviewed after the start of the calendar year.
Cost Estimates: Pepper provided a third cost estimate which is known as “Design Development” during November. This document has the estimated costs within $119,000 of the budget. The estimate includes design contingencies, construction contingencies and escalation costs. Drawings have progressed and the systems and finishes for each of the facilities are better defined. The District has value engineered the design and budget. A list of priority items has been developed. The items listed on the priority list, once vetted, will become the work the District will consider in Phase 2 or 3 (Summer 2021 and Summer 2022). Once actual costs are known the work in years 4 or 5 will be defined. The District also has created a tentative capital budget for items that need to be completed in the next 5-7 years.
Construction Phasing: Final Phase 1 plans have been drafted and are in the process of being shared with the schools. Actual Phase 1 construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020, with the first step being asbestos abatement.