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posted: 10/16/2013 5:00 AM

District 41 classroom project takes shape

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Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41's proposal to build new classrooms at each of its four elementary schools took greater shape at Tuesday's board meeting with schematic design and construction management progress updates and two presentations for alternative financing.

The project, estimated to have a price tag at $10 to $14 million, is being proposed to decrease the district's reliance on its portable space -- the district currently uses 22 portable classrooms in its elementary schools alone.

The plan is to add four flexible classrooms at Franklin, Lincoln, Churchill and Forest Glen schools, at 900 square feet larger than a typical district classroom with the goal to complete the project over the next two to three summers. The designs also incorporate the possibility of outdoor learning at each school.

"We're further along than we were two to three weeks ago," said superintendent Paul Gordon. "We're working diligently to provide a dynamic work environment while reducing our reliance on portables."

FGM Architects provided an overview of the design process and schedule, with designs as well as photos of the current school and computerized renderings of the finished projects.

The classroom project would bring close to 400 students out of mobile classrooms and into buildings, designed as flexible spaces with a focus on 21st Century learning that could be converted into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math labs in the future.

"The whole idea is flexibility," Gordon said.

Jack Hayes from FQC Construction Management outlined the milestones necessary to reach the target goal of building additions at Franklin and potentially Lincoln by summer 2014.

The two main areas of focus are working through the development of design and bidding approvals by spring 2014, and most critically stormwater permitting review and approval.

"From a design and construction standpoint, I don't see any complication in getting to do both Franklin and Lincoln next summer. It comes down to stormwater reviews and so forth," Hayes said. "If everything goes ideally we're looking at Franklin for sure next summer, Lincoln with permitting and approvals next summer. Most likely the work should be completed by the fall of the 2015 school year."

On the financing end, representatives from William Blair and MB Financial Bank both made presentations for non-referendum financing options. Elizabeth Hennessey from William Blair discussed the alternate options of debt certificates and alternate bonds, both of which would be paid from operating fund revenues. MB Financial made a municipal bond presentation, discussing the two types of municipal bonds and two types of bond sales.

Construction costs are expected to be covered by a combination of district fund reserves and borrowing options, which would not increase taxes or extend the district's current bond debt, officials have said.

The administration plans to provide more information and refinements to the plans, with an informed cost estimate from FQC, at the board's Oct. 28 meeting with the goal of board action on going for bid at its Nov. 11 meeting.

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