The gymnasium at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield is in line to get a new ceiling this summer, a project that is expected to cost around $100,000 to complete.
Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 is seeking bids for the work, which is scheduled to begin June 11 and be completed by mid-July. Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski said he hopes the cost for the work will come in under budget.
‘Typically we are seeing bids that are coming back lower than what we anticipate because of the market,” Kuzniewski said. ‘If you can afford to do work, now is a good time to do it.”
For example, the district just completed the first phase of a project to install blinds on the new windows at its two schools. That project was expected to cost about $60,000 but came in at roughly $44,000. Phase two of the blinds installation will be completed over the summer and will cost an additional $30,000, approximately.
Replacing the gymnasium ceiling at Gross School has been on the school boardfs radar for a couple of years. The acoustical tile ceiling needs to be addressed because it is beginning to fail.
A quick look at the ceiling shows that about 20 of the tiles, which were cemented in place with a type of mastic, have fallen down in the past year or so. Kuzniewski estimated that the existing ceiling tiles are 40-50 years old. The ceiling is at least 25 feet from the gym floor.
‘We have a number of ceiling tiles that fall randomly,” said Kuzniewski, ‘and therefs no real way to put the ceiling tiles back up.
‘It was a weekly occurrence last year that wefd have a tile or two fall, in the middle of class.”
While no children have been struck by falling tiles, said Kuzniewski, there have been children present when they fell. The tiles are not particularly heavy, but they do have corners and can gain some steam falling two stories to the floor.
‘I wouldnft want to be hit on the head with a pound and a half at 30 feet,” said Kuzniewski.
The old ceiling wonft be taken down. Instead, a new ceiling made from 8-by-8-foot acoustical panels, similar to the ones used in the multipurpose room at Brook Park School in LaGrange Park, will encapsulate the old ceiling.
That will also allow the fluorescent light fixtures, which now protrude from the ceiling, to be recessed.
Pipes continue to fail
A more pressing long-term issue remains the plumbing at Gross School, as the old galvanized steel pipes continue to burst.
On March 27, during spring break, a water pipe burst in the boiler room of the school, and the sump pump in the room also failed the same day. As a result, said Kuzniewski, 10,000 gallons of water flooded the boiler room to a depth of about 3 feet, knocking out the pilot valves on the water heaters and damaging the pumps on the 50-year-old boilers.
Replacing the valves and pumps cost $20,000, an expense the district hopes to recover through its insurance carrier.
‘We still have to address how we attack the plumbing,” said Kuzniewski. ‘Ifd hate to even try to estimate what a full pipe replacement in Gross alone would be, but wefre talking between a half million and three-quarters of a million dollars.”