School construction projects moving along ‘pretty fast’
For the past eight months, construction on the new Lansing Elementary School and Lansing High auditorium may have looked slow in progress to passersby, but what was taking place underground and out of site was anything but.
Dale Bohannon, director of maintenance of the Lansing School District, said it may not look like much is happening at the construction sites, but that's just because many people don't understand the preliminary work that has to be done before the more visible work can take place.
"It's all part of the process," he said, in reference to installing in-ground electrical and plumbing lines. "It has to be done before you see the walls go up."
The project's schedule had to be reworked once, Bohannon said, because the original dates that went out after the construction bidding process were too aggressive. Since making the schedule more reasonable, he said crews were moving right along.
Now that all of the in-ground work had been completed, he said, Lansing residents should start seeing the project move along "pretty fast."
In addition to the in-ground work, crews have started pouring the auditorium stage floor and building the walls of the music room for the high school. At the new elementary school, outside walls to the gymnasium, cafeteria and classrooms have been built, about 60 percent of the roofing deck has been placed and some interior walls have begun to go up, Bohannon said.
The expected completion date for the music room section of the high school addition is mid-January 2008, with the rest of the auditorium being finished in March 2008. The new elementary school should be completed by February or March 2008.
One issue that has been the nemesis of the site's construction crews since the beginning has been harsh weather. Bohannon said crews didn't expect to have to deal with the freezing temperatures that lasted several weeks in March. And more recently, crews have been fighting rain to keep work moving.
Bohannon said so far these have been minor delays that haven't affected the schedule much.
In addition to staying on schedule, the project has also managed to keep the budget in line. The original bond issue of $23.6 million has seen limited amounts of fluctuations so far.
Randal Bagby, superintendent of USD 469, said there had been several change orders to the construction, some costing more and some costing less. He said, as of now, items have evened out and the project is within budget.
Bagby said it would be hard to tell if the project comes in below or above the original budget until every loose end is tied up at the completion.
"The bottom line of the budget is it's a moving target and you don't really hit it until the end of the project," he said.
As far as what should be done with the soon-to-be empty three buildings currently housing kindergarten through fourth graders, Bohannon said several ideas were being considered.
For the current Intermediate School, Bohannon said parts of it might come down to create more parking spots, while other parts might be utilized by the high school next door.
He said the elementary school was no longer conducive to the way students are being taught but said there were several other options to consider that would still be district related. He said he would like to see the current third-grade building turned into a maintenance shop or warehouse for the school district.
For the kindergarten to second grade building, Bohannon suggested creating different spaces for the district's central office, a staff training center, a day care or the LEAP program, which helps people complete their high school diplomas.
No decisions have been made on exactly what will be done with the buildings. Bohannon said once the current occupants are moved out, the district will be able to get a better understanding of what it has to work with.