Riverside Elementary School District 96 has hired a construction manager as it moves closer to launching construction projects at the district’s four elementary schools next year. 

On Oct. 16, the school board voted 6-0 to hire Chicago-based Berglund Construction to manage the projects, which will include a major addition at Ames School and smaller additions or renovations at the district’s three other elementary schools.

Berglund was chosen from a group of five companies that submitted proposals. A committee made up of Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye, Director of Finance and Operation Jim Fitton, Director of Technology and Innovation Don Tufano, Director of Buildings and Grounds Bill Radtke, school board member Joel Marhoul, architect Steve Wright and owner’s representative Ramish Nair evaluated the companies and interviewed three finalists, including IHC Construction Companies and Bulley & Andrews, before recommending hiring Berglund.

“Ultimately it came down to the relationships, the school experiences they had, and our team’s decision to move forward with this group,” Ryan-Toye said, adding that the team was impressed with recent work done by Berglund at East Leyden High School. 

“It came to a matter of who really addressed some of the intangibles and who gave the best interview,” Marhoul said.

Berglund recently managed the renovation work done at Unity Temple, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed national historic landmark in Oak Park, and managed renovation work at East Leyden and Dixon High Schools as well as managed a number of new building projects at the Frances Parker School in Chicago.

District officials decided, following the recommendation of Nair, to hire a construction manager instead of a general contractor to manage the project. Going the construction manager route gives the district more control over costs and gives it the right to approve of the hiring of the subcontractors who will do the actual work.

“It was his strong recommendation that we pursue the construction management relationship as a way to really have better economies and better cost effectiveness in our overall projects,” Ryan-Toye said. 

Berglund Construction will provide a project manager, an assistant project manager and three superintendents to oversee the work done at the four elementary schools.

“Essentially they’re going to be your eyes and ears out here on a daily basis,” Nair told the school board on Oct. 16 before the vote to hire Berglund.

Berglund will be paid 2.75 percent of the value of the trades work as well about $18,340 for preconstruction consulting, and about $547,000 for general conditions, essentially the overhead and cost of salaries for the firm.

Final plans for the Ames School addition are expected to be approved by the school board in December. Work at Ames is expected to begin in late January or February. The home at 443 Loudon road, which the district purchased earlier this year for $350,000 to expand the Ames campus, will probably be demolished in January. 

Plans for small additions at Blythe Park and Hollywood School have not yet been finalized. All changes at Blythe Park must be approved by the Riverside Preservation Commission, while plans at Hollywood School remain in flux as District 96 and the Hollywood Citizens Association try to come to an agreement about what land owned by the HCA the school can use to expand the playground and perhaps add parking. 

Plans at Blythe Park School include building a secure entrance vestibule and adding an additional classroom. Hollywood School will get a multipurpose room. The main office at Central School will be moved across the hall and an elevator will be built in the school’s courtyard. 

The lower-level of Central School, where the district’s administrative offices were housed until August, will also be renovated and reconfigured, with Central getting its own lunchroom.