The architects from Allied Design Consultants, Inc., Springfield meet with the Spring Valley Elementary Board of Education Wednesday night to discus ways it could still get a “dream” building without going too much over budget.
The new building project which will be built behind the existing John F. Kennedy school building was bid out last month. It went over budget from the $14.5 million projected cost by 3.8 percent. The project was planned to be at around $17.2 million with contingencies, but now will be over $18.6 million. Currently, the school has over $4 million of its own money and will receive about $12.2 million from the state. The school board also has $920,000 in bond funds it can draw from to help cover the cost.
The problem is the board was planning to use that money to buy an air conditioner unit for the current school building allowing both buildings to have air conditioning. The architects offered ways the school could cut back on the project in order to save money and buy the air conditioning unit.
“It comes down to the administration on what you think is essential,” said William VanDusen, architect.
One of the suggestions was to go with a low end air conditioning unit for the old school building. However, architect Frank Maras said this might raise energy costs because it is not as efficient as the original model that would have been purchased and it has a shorter life expectancy.
The architects offered a long list of other cuts the board could make to save money, including downgrading LED lighting to fluorescents and going with cheaper materials for flooring, roofing and walls.
The board said some of the changes like with the lighting would cause energy bills to be higher. Superintendent Jim Hermes said it would be like taking long-term losses for a short-term gain.
Board president Ray Nolasco said the state originally gave them the $12 million in funds based on a project that was supposed to be $16 million. He asked if they could go back to the state and ask them to match funding for the new projected cost.
“It’s the worst time to plan anything with the state,” said Hermes. He added, “The goal on this whole project was to save the tax payers money.”
Maras said there are grants available that could help the school pay for projects, including the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation grants and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Energy Efficiency grant.
The architects also offered some suggestions on what the school board should not cut back on, including switching from copper to aluminum for lighting fixtures because of the increased chance of fire. VanDusen also said the school should not go with cheaper bricks for the outside of the new building because it would be there for more than 50 years and aesthetics should play a key role.
“When does it start to impact the construction schedule?” asked board member Jim Faletti about when they should make a final decision.
“It will be delayed,” VanDusen said about starting the new building project.
VanDusen said the board should not wait another month to make the decision. The Board members decided to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 to go over funding and possible cuts to the project. Nolasco asked to have the architects prepare information about funding available and how the cuts will affect state funding for doing all the cuts suggested by the design team and with just the cuts the they think are necessary.
Alicia LeGrand can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.