Lakeside construction will finish on time
Lakeside School District Superintendent Shawn Cook said Thursday the district’s construction projects, which began in September, will be completed in January 2013 within the proposed budget.
LAKESIDE CONSTRUCTION: Lakeside High School senior Krystyna Hawley walks past an artist’s rendition of the school’s new science wing and entrance that is under construction. Lakeside School District Superintendent Shawn Cook said all of the district’s construction will be completed by January 2013.
The campus improvements include classrooms for all three campuses, including a science wing for the high school, five tornado “safe rooms” and additional parking lots.
Cook said when the voters approved a 2-mill increase to boost the total millage to 37.7 mills in the 2010 school board elections, it will allow the district to eventually save $13,249,525, based on Federal Emergency Management Agency facilities partnership program and Federal Qualified School Construction Bonds estimates on the project.
Cook said the district took bids for the project in May, and the district received $16,053,658 in revenue.
The revenue consists of $12 million in bonds, FEMA provided $3,103,232, state partnership money provided $935,466, to accumulate the $16 million total.
“We’re getting $16 million to do our projects, and we’re only having to pay $12,088,825,” he said. “Normally, if we were to get $16 million, we’d have to pay $25,338,350 back in payments.”
Cook said the campus improvements are due to the growth rate the district has experienced, which is 516 students added since the 2004-2005 school year.
He said the 10 classrooms that would be added to the primary school campus, eight classrooms to the middle school campus and six science classrooms to the high school campus would help house those additional students.
He said the construction has not had a “major” impact on student parking.
“It really hasn’t been bad because we had plenty of parking on campus already,” he said. “Some just have to walk a bit further, like from down the hill by the historic building.”
While building one of the additional parking lots, “we’ve been able to use this dirt for all of the earth work for the projects. That has been very significant in time-savings and savings, period.”
Cook said the district chose to use fencing over construction tape to keep the students, faculty and staff safe and to clearly section off the areas of construction.
“Hill & Cox Corporation has done a great job of securing everything and maneuvering traffic around,” he said. “We have used chain-link fencing everywhere. Some people use orange stretchy tape, but I think this will be a lot safer for our kids.”
He said David French, with French Architects, designed and provided signs for the campus so onlookers could visualize what the campus will look like once the construction is completed.
“We have had some obstacles,” he said. “We had to shut a playground by the junior high field and move it. It’s worked out though.”
He said otherwise, the district hasn’t experienced many changes to the original design, except for moving one of the buildings on the middle school from one side of the building to the other.
“From the time we did the initial pictures and received the millage, the only thing we had to change was where that (building) pod was going to be,” he said.
“One of advantage to having Hill & Cox as a construction company is their construction managers have kids in our schools, and David French had kids go through here, so they knew how the traffic and everything worked,” he said.
“They were able to lay it all out right, but we’re still having to dodge trucks and constantly doing what we have to do to ensure what is best for the safety of our kids.”
He said planning for the project began over a year and a half ago and will be about a three-year project. He said having Hill & Cox Corporation and French Architects as part of the project-planning has been beneficial in saving money.
“Having those professionals work with you early really benefits you financially,” he said. “As we were going through the process, we would sit down with the architect, construction managers and all the principals, as well as the planning committee.”
Based on the layout of the improved campus, he said, “kids will be able to walk to another building without having to be outside very long. When kids have to come up to the auditorium, even when there’s bad weather, they can stay dry.”
The six larger classrooms that will be part of the new science wing on the high school campus will also provide a new entrance to the school. Cook said this new entrance will be more recognizable.
“Every part of our campus has benefited,” he said. “It’s always exciting when everyone knows they’re getting something.”
The five tornado safe rooms will be added to pre-kindergarten, primary, middle school and high school campuses. Cook said the district received about $3 million from the FEMA for the safe rooms that will not have to be paid back.
“When we got this grant, I believe it was the largest grant FEMA had given to a school district in the state,” he said. “I hope that FEMA will continue to fund this so every school district can have safe rooms.”
The safe rooms on the campuses will also be used for other purposes. On the primary school campus, one room will double as an additional classroom/meeting space. Two large shelters will double as physical education facilities for the primary and middle schools, and as a second cafeteria for the high school.
“The beauty of that is there will be safe rooms located on every campus, so that all of our kids and all of our employees will have a safe room to get into within five minutes,” he said.
The tornado safe rooms will also be available to the community after school hours if bad weather occurs. A signal would be sent from a satellite, and all of the tornado shelters would automatically unlock during threatening weather. This would allow the community immediate access during inclement weather and is part of the agreement with FEMA, Cook said.
Sunday, May 19, 2013