As the Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary School District 95 begins to lay the groundwork for a referendum to fund the construction of a new grade-level center in Brookfield, the district’s board of education on March 10 voted to hire Hillside-based Executive Construction Inc. (ECI) as the construction manager for the project.

With a vote of 6 to 0 (school board president Lynn Waterloo was absent due to illness) the school board has directed ECI to concentrate its efforts on working with the architect, Cashman Stahler Group, to draw up plans for a fourth- and fifth-grade center on the campus of S.E. Gross Middle School.

According to Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski, the 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot new school would have the capacity to house six to seven sections of each grade in the new two-story building, which would be attached to the middle school building, but would function independently with its own name, principal and entrance.

A new “large” gymnasium, to be shared by S.E. Gross and the new school, would be included in the new building, said Kuzniewski. The gym would be constructed at one end of the site and have its own external entrance, allowing school officials to be able to limit access from the gym into the school buildings after hours.

In addition to the new school building, officials are planning major renovations inside S.E. Gross Middle School. The current second-flood gymnasium would be converted into 12 classrooms and the second-floor auditorium would be removed. A new multi-use cafeteria/auditorium (a cafetorium) would be located in the two-floor area immediately below the existing auditorium, with classrooms on the third floor.

“We’re still working through strategies of how to identify the scope of instruction in the [grades] 4-5 concept, so when we start involving larger groups in the discussion, we have answers to questions,” Kuzniewski said.

Kuzniewski said the entire project, including a new building and renovating S.E. Gross Middle School, is now estimated at about $30 million, which is higher than previously reported estimates. 

When the school district sought proposals from construction management firms, it used a hypothetical building estimated to cost about $21.5 million. The request for proposals also did not include renovations to S.E. Gross Middle School in its estimate of costs.

Kuzniewski did confirm that the school board has scrapped an earlier plan to get a referendum question before voters in November. There are too many unanswered questions at this point to do that, he said.

“In order to go to referendum, we will have to have conducted community input and identify the cost. We need to know what we need,” Kuzniewski said.

Now the school board is aiming for a referendum question to appear on the ballot for the consolidated election on April 4, 2017.

According to the contract approved by the school board on March 10, ECI will be paid a lump sum of $28,000 for work done prior to a referendum question being approved. If a referendum is approved and funds are made available, ECI will be paid 2 percent of the cost of the work (which has not been settled yet) and will provide the district with a guaranteed maximum price.

If costs exceed the guaranteed maximum price, the contractor will be responsible for paying the difference, unless there is an agreement to amend that maximum figure. 

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