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updated: 8/29/2013 10:30 AM

Dist. 41 pursuing renovations at 4 schools

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Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 wants to pursue at least $12 million in renovations and additions to its four elementary schools over the next three years, officials said.

At the forefront of the proposal is the addition of so-called "innovation labs," described as large, flexible spaces where students would tackle hands-on projects as part of the district's STEAM curriculum focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

The school board voted unanimously this week to start the planning process for the possible building additions by spending $300,000 on schematic designs, site surveys and soil analysis.

The district's 2009 master facility plan proposed innovation labs at the schools, but it wasn't until last year that officials began looking more seriously at the topic.

"I always thought this was a good idea," board President Sam Black said. "I honestly believe this is phase one of a master facility plan that will eliminate portable (classrooms) in our district ... This is an option -- and we're not at the option stage now, we're at the 'let's see if it's feasible' stage. This $300,000 is money well spent to see if it's feasible."

Officials have proposed construction of the labs starting next summer at Benjamin Franklin School, followed by the other three schools in the final two years. Franklin was selected as the first site because of its recently installed underground stormwater detention system that will make the village and county application and permitting process go faster than at the other schools, according to Assistant Superintendent Bob Ciserella.

In total, bids for the projects at the four schools are expected to range from $12 million to $17 million, according to a July 31 report by FGM Architects, the district's consultant. The cost to complete proposed project alternates, such as additional building renovations and underground stormwater work, ranges from $3.8 million to $5.7 million.

Ciserella said the proposed project scope at each school varies based on need. The Abraham Lincoln School project is expected to be the most costly -- upward of $5.5 million -- because officials want to reconfigure the existing space to address student traffic flow.

Here's a closer look at the proposed projects at each school:

Benjamin Franklin: A 3,900-square-foot addition would include an innovation lab, a new music classroom and expanded playground area for $1.9 million. A $97,000 alternative calls for remodeling a second-floor classroom to create a second innovation lab. Construction would begin at the end of the school year in June and be complete by November 2014.

Churchill: A $2.1 million, 10,925-square-foot addition at the west classroom wing includes construction of two innovation labs and two new classrooms. Four existing classrooms would be demolished. A proposed $2.1 million project alternative involves demolition of the school office and restroom area and construction of a new classroom and restroom area, while the office would move to the west wing. A $305,000 alternative would cover underground stormwater detention improvements.

Forest Glen: A 4,150-square-foot addition would include two new classrooms, an innovation lab and a new underground stormwater system for $2.3 million. A $488,000 alternative calls for remodeling an existing classroom to create a second innovation lab and reconfiguring the school library.

Abraham Lincoln: A $5.5 million, 12,525-square-foot addition includes a new school office, innovation lab, music classroom, restrooms and expanded cafeteria. The existing office and two mobile classrooms would be demolished. A $699,000 alternative proposes remodeling the center of the west wing to create an innovation lab and new corridor. A $103,000 alternative would cover underground stormwater detention.

The school board has suggested using reserve funds to pay for construction costs. "Soft" costs, such as professional engineering and design fees and the purchase of classroom equipment, would be funded through operating funds, officials said.

Ron Richardson, vice president of FGM Architects, said he expects to provide the district with interior renderings of the innovation labs by October.

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