The District 209 Board of Education, at its July 11 meeting, unanimously approved a $297,613.15 contract with an outside firm to remove asbestos, repair school kitchens and replace floors at Proviso East and West.
That approval comes just as two other projects, a $2.2 million heating and piping upgrade and a new $1.1 million security system are nearing completion.
D209 is working to transform certain parts of its campus into personalized learning centers, parent centers and blended learning labs as well as updating teacher lounges. The asbestos removal and kitchen repair work is part of that effort. All work is scheduled to be completed by mid-August, before the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
There will be five or six “personalized learning centers” at both Proviso East and West, repurposing current office and classroom space, Supt. Dr. Jesse Rodriguez said July 17. Those centers will serve about 200 of the district’s roughly 1,000 so-called “credit deficient” students, using on-site counselors, a somewhat different layout than a traditional classroom and a lower teacher-to-student ratio to help students fulfill graduation requirements.
“It’s a little wing, an area of the building where we will provide services to those students based on their individual needs,” Rodriguez said. “The idea is make sure they are achieving credits. That’s the idea, to go away from the traditional setting. We know the traditional setting didn’t work for these kids.”
The district may expand those centers in the future, Rodriguez added. He is hopeful, however, that the schools system can address the credit issue using upfront collaboration with the district’s feeder schools and working with students and families.
“Right now,” Rodriguez said, “there is a big need.”
Of the eight bids, Franklin Park-based Husar Abatement submitted the lowest quote, at just under $300,000 and about $50,000 less than the next lowest bid. Work is set to begin after the district’s Financial Oversight Panel approves the contract.
The $2.2 million project includes mechanical, electrical and plumbing work at all three of the district’s schools. This includes pool ventilation, HVAC, auditorium air conditioning and a grease trap. That work, which will be done by contractor C. Ascitelli, should be finished by Aug. 1. The bid was first approved by the district’s Financial Oversight Panel in September 2016.
For the $1.1 million security system upgrade, D209 contracted with Pace Systems Inc. The roughly 600 cameras at Proviso East and West were “old and beyond their useful life.”
Todd Drafall, D209’s chief financial and operations manager, said July 17, it has been at least a decade since the last upgrade.
According to documents in the board’s July 11 meeting packet, that work was scheduled to be finished by June 30. The district’s Financial Oversight Panel approved the bid in July 2016.
The three projects come as D209 continues to work toward completing its Facilities Master Plan, a holistic, long-range planning document for the school system’s physical footprint. As reported by the Review, the D209 Board of Education approved a $139,900 contract in June with Chicago-based consultant Perkins and Will to draft the plan. That work, which includes research on current facilities, focus groups and community meetings, is ongoing.
“It is imperative that we have that plan done as soon as possible,” Rodriguez said. “We’re talking about millions of dollars and more.”