Just two months after learning that the middle school gymnasium and a home economics classroom needed immediate and costly repairs, school board members in Forest Park received some good news. The effort to reinforce the gym’s 28-foot high walls and prevent further cracking and bowing is complete – two months ahead of schedule and well under budget.

In June, the board voted to spend $337,000 on emergency repairs that were expected to wrap up sometime in October. A series of cracks in the gymnasium’s brick walls proved to be a sign of a serious structural problem that would require massive steel beams to gird the 25-year-old structure. A similar problem was discovered in the classroom.

Those beams were installed and the project was declared a success on Aug. 14, according to Assistant Superintendent Ed Brophy. Furthermore, the work was done for roughly $230,000, saving the district about one-third of the anticipated cost.

“I think the construction manager was able to find steel locally,” Superintendent Lou Cavallo said. “That was a huge help.”

Because the project was anticipated to run some six weeks into the school year, plans were made to relocate physical education classes. With those contingencies already in place, the school board is moving forward with a lower-priority project and replacing the gym floor. Bids for that work will be discussed during a Sept. 2 meeting. The new floor is expected to cost the district $150,000, said Brophy.

-Josh Adams