The Jacksonville District 117 School Board received an update on progress with ongoing construction projects at Washington and Eisenhower elementary schools during the November meeting on Wednesday.
Superintendent Steve Ptacek says progress on the Washington renovation is going very well, albeit slower than they had hoped. He says the crews are doing a phenomenal job but continued challenges felt across the construction industry means that students will not be able to return to Washington during this school year.
“The companies are feeling the manpower shortage the same as everyone else is and supply chains are an issue. So you combine both of those and, yeah we’re facing more delays.
I mean you figure that we got Lincoln done and South done in one summer. This is a larger project so we were thinking a summer and a semester, but nowadays there’s no way we could have replicated those two construction projects.”
Ptacek says despite the slowed progress, there has been good news in the upcoming Eisenhower renovation. “On Eisenhower, we’ve seen the original designs and it’s going to be just a fantastic school when it’s done. Walls, good sized classrooms, a new cafeteria so the cafeteria and gym don’t have to share space with each other.
I’m really excited about Eisenhower and that will hopefully start in the summer. They think they can get that done in the summer, but luckily we have the rental on the temporary classrooms all through next school year also in case they can’t get done over the summer.”
Project Manager, Bob Roads told the Board Wednesday that the new electrical panel for Eisenhower has already been ordered, well ahead of the need to have it on site. One of the major delays in the Washington timeline has been supply chain issues with receiving the large commercial panel for that project, so they are trying to take that issue out of the equation for Eisenhower.
Ptacek says, all in all, things are going as well as they can, and even with the delays at Washington, the costs are staying within the budgeted amounts. He says it will be worth it all in the long run.
“I want everyone to keep the eye on the prize in the end game of having at that point in time four of our elementary schools, our middle school completely renovated. A lot of work has been done to the high school, and then we’ve got to start thinking about in the long run how to address the physical building needs at North and Murrayville.”
Ptacek says any plans for North and Murrayville will not include discussion on boundaries or closures. He says open houses will be planned for both the Washington and Eisenhower projects once they are completed, and that being able to welcome the public into newly renovated buildings are some of the best days for a school superintendent.