Archive for Monday, April 22, 2013

School construction projects could begin by April 2014

April 22, 2013


Construction could begin as early as April 2014 on school projects that will be funded with the recently approved $92.5 million bond issue, with completion of all the projects tentatively estimated by the end of summer 2016.

That could mean disruptions for students and their families in the middle of the upcoming 2013-14 school year as students are either moved into temporary facilities or transferred to other buildings during the construction phase — an issue that planners said they have not yet addressed.

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Draft Construction Schedule ( .ODS )

Dean Younger, the construction manager recently hired to supervise the projects, presented a draft schedule to the Lawrence school board Monday night.

It calls for breaking the the construction projects into five packages, each of which would be assigned to an architectural firm for design.

Younger said the first package would include schools with the largest and most complicated sets of projects on the list: Hillcrest, Langston Hughes, Sunset Hill, Cordley and Pinckney.

"I refer to it as the package that's going to take as much personality and public relations as it is skill," Younger said of the first package.

The plans at Pinckney School, for example, call for remodeling all existing classrooms; adding a gymnasium and music room; upgrading mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and making site improvements to the pick-up, drop-off and parking areas, at an estimated cost of $6.9 million for that building alone.

Plans for Langston Hughes are much smaller in scale, but still involve adding new classroom space, renovating existing classrooms and improving the pick-up, drop-off and parking area.

Work at Langston Hughes is projected to be finished by December 2014, but Pinckney could last through the summer of 2016, according to the draft schedule.

Board members took no immediate action on the proposed schedule, although Superintendent Rick Doll said, "This is where we're headed unless you (the board) tell us differently in the next couple of weeks."

But board member Randy Masten said he did not want to commit to a schedule until planners had addressed the issue of where to put students during the construction projects.

"That needs to be a conversation on the front side, not on the back side," Masten said. "We can't try to adapt midstream on this. We need to have a plan on where the students are going to be taught. Do we have adequate space for them? Are we going to put them in portables? Whatever that takes, we need to see that early on."

Younger said those decisions will need to be made as the final designs are being made on each building.

Doll said the scheduling of the projects is closely tied to the latest five-year enrollment projections, which were presented earlier in the meeting.

Robert Schwarz, principal planner with the consulting firm RSP and Associates, said the Lawrence district can expect to add about 800 new students over the next five years, with the biggest growth rate — 9.9 percent — expected at the high school level.

Elementary enrollment is expected to grow 6.2 percent over that time, Schwarz said.

And while it is hard to pinpoint which schools will feel the most growth, because the district has a liberal policy allowing transfers, Schwarz said it's likely that Hillcrest, Langston Hughes, New York and Sunset Hill could grow beyond their current capacity.

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kuguardgrl13 4 years, 8 months ago

Masten is spot on with putting the students first. Imagine if you have a kindergartener who starts this next school year at Pinckney and then mid-year or the next year gets moved to Deerfield or Hillcrest for two or three years and then might possibly be moved back to Pinckney to finish elementary school. The task the school board faces is as delicate as closing a school permanently. You're dealing with young children who are building relationships with peers and staff. Normally they would have six years with many of the same kids before moving on to middle school. Several of the building projects can probably be completed leaving the kids where they are. You do the bulk of the work during the summer when they aren't there. It takes a few years longer, and they may have to do without a few staple items (I didn't have a jungle gym for several years), but they get to remain in the same building with the same students and staff. Either that or the board needs to use this time to level out populations across the schools after having several buildings close and few adjustments made.

William Ed 4 years, 7 months ago

Interesting observations. Two comments; most kids in Military families have the benefit of attending two or three schools before they get to high school and sometimes a couple of high schools. It provides them with a broader view of the world and makes them more able to accomodate change. The second observation is that if the board wanted to level out the population, they could have done that without spending $92.5 Million. All they needed to do was change the boundaries and utilize the three elementary schools that they have in inventory and the freed up space at McDonald Drive. Therefore, I wouldn't expect to see them take any action to level the population. Good thinking though.

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