District 58 to Seek Bids for Pierce Downer Addition
The school district is planning a $1.2 million addition to the space-challenged elementary school that would add three classrooms and upgrade existing areas.
The District 58 school board voted unanimously Monday to authorize its architect, Wight and Co., to solicit formal bids for the project, which includes a three-classroom addition on the northeast side of the building and modifications for additional small instructional spaces.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 million, which would be covered by available fund balances. Officials hope to begin construction in May and finish by early fall—possibly September.
Pierce Downer, 1436 Grant St., has been the subject of much debate this year as district officials grapple with severe space constraints—an issue also experienced by Lester Elementary School.
The decision to move forward with the addition at Pierce Downer stems from a ccomprehensive assessment of the district’s 13 schools, as well as the Administrative Service Center and Longfellow Center. The assessment, according to district officials, was the first step in creating a long-term facilities plan.
The final assessments were presented to the board this past spring. The report identified facility needs, recommended construction projects and improvement options for the district’s operational buildings—all of which would cost approximately $39 million.
According to the report, Lester and Pierce Downer have classroom areas per student of 41 square feet and 38 square feet, respectively. The area per student at the other 11 schools ranges from 45 square feet (Herrick Middle School) to 74 square feet (Kingsley).
District 58 Superintendent Kari Cremascoli said adding three additional rooms to Pierce Downer would address the need for more classroom space, and would also give the school a dedicated band/music room, which it currently lacks.
The addition would also increase the number of spaces for small group instruction and student services. Pierce Downer currently has four such spaces, while the rest of the district's schools have six or seven.
"We did an analysis to really determine the capacity of all of our building, and what that tells us about our priority list and where we can refine that," Cremascoli said in November. "(The analysis) did tell us that at this point Pierce Downer and Lester are the two buildings with the greatest need as far overcrowding. When we looked a little closer, comparing the two and having limited funds, Pierce Downer does have a greater need than Lester at this point."
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