School board approves $206,000 to start emergency exterior wall repairs at Naperville Central

The Naperville Unit District 203 school board approved an emergency expenditure of up to $206,731 to pay for the first phase of repairs to a water-damaged exterior wall at Naperville Central High School.

Superintendent Dan Bridges detailed the situation at this week's board meeting, saying the damage was discovered during an inspection of an area of the school known to suffer from water intrusion. The first phase of work, he said, will entail shoring up the wall, removing bricks to further investigate the extent of the damage, and weatherproofing.

"Surprises are not always a good thing," Bridges told board members. "I'm not a big fan of needing to bring a request for emergency authorization before the board, but that's what that mechanism is in place for."

According to district officials, contractors in July were working on the masonry at Naperville Central when they discovered rusting and deterioration of the steel lintels above some windows. After further inspection raised concerns about the structural steel, engineers recommended the brick be completely removed.

The ongoing work will force classrooms in that area to relocate elsewhere in the building during the first semester of the school year.

It's the second straight year District 203 officials have asked the board for emergency funding. Last summer, the district needed $267,000 to replace driver's education vehicles at Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools.

Michael Frances, the district's chief financial officer, said that while the budget may need to be amended, there's money set aside to pay for the wall repairs. Work on the first phase was scheduled to begin before the start of classes next Thursday.

The second phase of work will include a structural evaluation. The third phase entails rebuilding the exterior.

Although multiple bids were gathered for work on the first phase, Bridges said the time crunch didn't allow for a formal bidding process. The bidding process for the final two phases remains up in the air, he said.

"Whether or not we go through the formal bidding process, we would always prefer that," Bridges said. "But time is a little bit of essence here as well because it's a structural matter that we want to ensure safety in the building."

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