Funding Availability Moves Silas Designs Forward

Designs for the new Silas Willard Elementary were about four months behind schedule.

The stall occurred due to an uncertain funding environment within the Galesburg school district. On Thursday, however, a few more details were reviewed by the groups responsible for overseeing the design as presented by Cordogan, Clark, and Associates.

Teachers stationed at Silas Willard are having plenty of say at this stage as the layout of classrooms continues toward a final look.

Project Manager Craig Welter says the firm wanted to use the opportunity to show the district what they’ve been working on during the respite.

“We were able to meet with the staff at the school before one of the last week’s of school and gather a little more information on the specifics of rooms,” says Welter. “We’ve also had a opportunity to speak with, meet with, IT people and plan what’s within the buildings and the rooms from a technology standpoint, as well as kitchen and food service.”

The Board of Education recently approved a nearly $20-million bond issuance with the assistance of Wells Fargo that will pay for the construction. Roughly $12-million in alternate revenue bonds and $7-million in Fire Prevention and Safety Bonds makes up that total.

Apart from classroom designs – which include small classroom windows and hallway “clouds,” as they’re called – the architects are now concerning themselves with preserving history. An entry archway may be constructed using the brick of the original building.

Project Architect Alex Lopez says it’s one of the examples they’re considering, but it’s not set in stone.

“We’re actually exploring the possibility of pulling out the stones that are in front of the building right now,” says Lopez. “The brick, it’s quite neat, there’s two types of brick in there. There’s a smooth brick and then there’s a rougher brick. We actually have to investigate, I know one of the bricks was actually fired in Galesburg.”

The bid package for the site and concrete work is expected to be approved by the District 205 Board of Education in September of this year.

The process for construction, however, is requiring a plywood fence and bus drop-off route also be implemented. The fence will separate the old school from the new building site while construction is ongoing. The two items hope to increase safety and avoid hassle while reduced parking is present.

Welter says the plywood fence is more secure than a chain-link fence.

“The real purpose of that is to, you know, those chain-link fences: we don’t want kids crawling into the site, we don’t want debris blowing back and forth,” says Welter. “It’s a physical barrier with school going on next to it.”

Because the design has progressed sufficiently, District 205 is looking for possible members of a historical committee dedicated to preserving the history of the old school.

The design for Silas Willard is anticipated for Board of Education approval in late July.

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