Leaner expansion plan for Libertyville school moves forward

  • Officials have approved a $5.3 million bid for an expansion and other work at Rockland School in Libertyville. Built in the 1920s, the elementary school is the oldest building in Libertyville District 70.

    Officials have approved a $5.3 million bid for an expansion and other work at Rockland School in Libertyville. Built in the 1920s, the elementary school is the oldest building in Libertyville District 70. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • All the doors at Rockland School are painted red, an apparent nod to schoolhouses of old. Rockland is a true neighborhood K-5 school and was built in 1927, making it the oldest in town.

    All the doors at Rockland School are painted red, an apparent nod to schoolhouses of old. Rockland is a true neighborhood K-5 school and was built in 1927, making it the oldest in town. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/25/2017 4:40 PM

After a false start, a big expansion at Libertyville Elementary District 70s oldest school is a go.

Work to add classrooms, parking and a gym at Rockland School is expected to begin in June following school board acceptance Monday of a low bid of $5.3 million for the project.

 

Happ Builders Inc. of Waukegan was selected from six bidders in the second round of requests. A call for bids a few months ago drew three responses in the $7.5 million range.

"They were too high," said school board President Tom Vickers. "There was no hesitation by the administration and no hesitation by the board to say, `Hold on. Tap the brakes. Let's try this again.'"

The accepted bid features six alternates, including replacing building sprinklers and installing new ones to the addition; a new roof for the current gym, which will be converted to a multipurpose room; and a divider curtain and projection screen for the gym.

Several elements were dropped to lower the price, according to district spokeswoman Robin Kollman. Those include a third classroom; adding small offices and meeting rooms; remodeling the first-floor classrooms and learning center; replacing the steam boiler; and cleaning the exterior brick of the 1920s era neighborhood school at 160 W. Rockland Road.

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"We certainly had to eliminate a few things," Principal Jeff Knapp said.

An expansion of the K-5 school has been under consideration for a few years, as the district in 2014 installed mobile classrooms.

The plan includes new classrooms dedicated for art and music and a new gym to replace the current 2,500-square-foot gym, which was built in 1958 and doubles as a lunchroom and event space.

"It's definitely tight," Knapp said. "We're utilizing every room in the school, including small office spaces, and some of our specialists are doubled up."

Rockland has 290 students. It opened in early 1927 with four classrooms and has had six additions, the last in 1997.

All work in the existing building will be complete by the start of the 2017-18 school year. The new classrooms and gym are considered a separate wing, representing a 12,300-square-foot addition. The work is scheduled to be done by Dec. 15.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"What's going on during the school year will be safely on the east side where students won't be around," Knapp said.

The Rockland work is the second consecutive major project for District 70, as a similarly priced expansion at Copeland School wrapped up late last year. The district is using available cash and did not borrow money via a voter referendum for either project.

"Once that (Rockland) gets going, we'll turn our attention to our next long-term capital improvement plan and look at our facilities," Vickers said. "We've got some really great buildings and we want to keep them functioning."

@dhmickzawislak

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