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Yorkville High expansion could start in July

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Updated: March 2, 2013 6:52AM

YORKVILLE — The expansion to Yorkville High School could start as early as July.

The School Board this week unanimously approved the first phase of the expansion, estimated to cost between $12 million and $17 million.

Board members expect to pay for the expansion with the $10 million to $14 million the district has on hand. That means the board will not ask taxpayers for a referendum to raise taxes for the building work.

“We have taken a conservative approach, at the same time giving us a 21st century learning environment,” said School Board member Dean Fisher. “... We’re self-funding this, and not too many school districts are self-funding anything right now.”

In addition to the money on hand, the district is anticipating $7.9 million in construction bond money the state owes the district. Board members were buoyed this week by news the state is planning on selling $500 million in bonds to fund some of its obligations.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed,” said board President Dave Dockstader.

Superintendent Scott Wakely said the plan is to take a crowded school with an enrollment of 1,461 and expand it to house 2,000 students in grades nine to 12. That enrollment estimate comes from students currently in the elementary, intermediate and middle schools, although there still is plenty of room left at those levels, Wakely has said.

The project will expand and upgrade instructional room as well as circulation throughout the building. One of the big problems currently at the high school is the ability of students to get through crowded hallways to their classes in time.

The project includes the addition of a 10,150-square-foot lobby in front of the athletic area that will give students another way to get around the gyms. The current hallways also will be remodeled to be wider.

There will be a 31,599- square-foot academic addition of classrooms to the northwest side of the building, as well as a 6,100-square-foot addition of an upgraded learning resource center.

A fourth addition will house 11,246 square feet of art and science classrooms.

The rest of the first phase will be 36,320 square feet of renovation and remodeling related to the new buildings.

Mark Miller, of the project architects Concept 3, said bids should be in by the end of May, with the School Board taking action in June, and construction starting as early as July 1.

Wakely said he anticipates the school schedule and construction coexisting, without affecting the school calendar for the 2013-14 school year. But construction could delay the start of the 2014-15 school year, he said.

Also on the table are three alternates relating to new physical education and athletics areas, including two possible additions and renovation of the existing locker rooms.

Whether or not those are done, or partially done, depends on how construction bids for the project come in.

The architects have estimated that under a normal bidding climate, the first phase could cost as much as $17 million. But in an aggressive bidding climate, they estimate it could be as low as $12 million.

“We have a project with 24 contractors bidding,” said Mark Miller of Concept 3. “That’s extremely aggressive.”

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