205 board approves Steele and Lombard bid specs despite price increase

The District 205 Board of Education approved the bid specifications for the Lombard and Steele school renovations, despite the budgets for both increasing significantly.

It had been anticipated that the costs for the addition and renovation at Steele would come in at $4M while Lombard was expected to be $3.5M. Those numbers have ballooned to $4.8M for Steele and $6.8M for Lombard, which came as a shock to board members.

Superintendent Dr. John Asplund told board members that the next step was to bid out the work, with the approved bid specifications, and take the lowest bidder in hope that it would be lower than the estimated amounts, “…and, obviously, hope is not a strategy. But, we would hope that those bids would come in under and we could use some of the savings on what we projected versus actual towards future projects.”

Jeff Sandburg with Legate Architects spoke to the school board last night, telling them that on December 11th, Lombard was looking at a minor addition of three classrooms and renovation work.

Through committee meetings lead to the additions of a new commons, new library, renovations to the auditorium, kitchen expansion.

Where is the money coming from to cover the price difference? Asplund says it comes from the high school renovation budget.

“So, what that means is that Galesburg High School, where we said we had a budget of 35 million [dollars], we’re now looking at a budget of 28 [million]”

He says that the district isn’t looking to increase the overall budget of the project in an effort to keep taxes from increasing.

The district does have some possibilities for other revenue sources, including Governor J.B. Pritzker’s new capital plan which he said would be putting money towards building new schools. The indication from administrators is that the capital grant could help fund shortfalls in revenue for the 7-12 renovation project.

The grant process for school improvement plans is expected to out in March of 2020, and the hope is the district can use any money awarded to go towards the high school project.

The board was also given an option of pulling from reserves, which administrators were not a fan of.

It was noted by Asplund and Jennifer Hamm, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, that the school had to move forward with work and be completed by 2024 as part of the Health-Life-Safety study that was done in 2014. $40M of the total budget for the school renovation project came from what was allocated for the Health-Life-Safety work.

Board members had a lot of information to digest. Additionally, the board was given options for renovation work possibilities at King Elementary but no action was taken on that building.

No money was spent last night. The board just approved the bid specifications with the expectation of awarding bids at next month’s meeting.

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