With the first wave of construction contracts approved Thursday, work will begin next week on the conversion of Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54's Rauch Center for Instruction and Technology into a new Early Childhood Center, and the expansion of the administration building next door.
School board members approved three contracts totaling $3.7 million for phase I of the anticipated $19.5 million project.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Ric King said contracts for four more phases of the project will be considered over the next several board meetings.
On Thursday, Riemer Engineering of St. Charles was awarded a contract of $2.5 million; Superior Paving Inc. of Fox Lake a contract of $298,000; and Northwest Contractors Inc. of Hampshire a contract of $954,800.
All three companies were the low bidders among at least three others in their separate construction categories.
The work on the Early Childhood Center is expected to be completed by the start of the 2014-15 school year in late August, though the administration building's addition may linger a little longer.
Expansion of the administration building is required to house staff being displaced by the conversion of the former Rauch Center, which was largely used for administrative purposes. Rauch Center originally was Schaumburg School, the district's second oldest building.
The new Early Childhood Center will consolidate in one building two programs currently housed across several of the district's 27 schools. These programs are Early Childhood Special Education and Preschool For All -- Pre-K At-Risk.
With the ability to serve more than 860 kids, the new Early Childhood Center is expected to eliminate the current waiting lists for the two programs.
But the district's underused Parent-Paid Preschool programs will be discontinued, having never become self-funded as intended.
District officials say the value of the programs being relocated to the Early Childhood Center is that they reduce the need for later assistance some students would otherwise need without them.
The district is paying for the building projects entirely out of existing reserves. While adhering to its self-imposed rule of keeping at least six months of operational expenses in reserves, the projects will reduce that amount from nine months' to 7½ months' worth.