Ptacek More Optimistic On Washington Elementary Renovation Timeline

By Benjamin Cox on March 17, 2023 at 3:13pm

A photo dated March 6 shows the new entrance and office area at Washington Elementary, enabling increased security. (Jacksonville School District 117 Facebook)

Jacksonville School District 117 officials now believe that Washington Elementary’s renovation is now moving ahead on time.

Vision 117 Project Manager Bob Roads told the District 117 Board of Education on Wednesday that the top and bottom floors of the school currently are on hold while construction teams are now working on administrative areas on the first floor: “Work is now concentrated on the lobby, admin area, and the new gym. This week the contractors also started road work outside the school. Essentially the way that will work is the excavation is pretty much done now. They will come in with some rock. They won’t put all of the rock in. The masons will then follow up and use that rock road to haul some of their equipment and materials in to finish up the west side of the school. Once the masons are done, the arrow glass will be able to go in and finish the installation of the windows. The one window which won’t be installed is the one window on the west side of the gym. The new electrical panels will actually be lifted through that window down into the basement of the building.”

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that the temporary electrical panels are delayed to next month, while the permanent main electrical panel is still scheduled to be shipped in May: “There is always the chance that we will get the smaller, temporary panels and the next week the large main ones will appear. I’m okay with that. The smaller, temporary panels were purchased as an insurance plan to make sure that we can get the building done. We would only have one month rental on them, so we would substantially decrease our expected costs with them being late. It just shows why it was so important to go with a back-up plan. I’m still not absolutely convinced that the large panels are going to ship on May 2nd.”

Ptacek says despite the state of uncertainty with the electrical panels, he did receive good news from the general contractor this past month: “Right now, the estimates from the architects are coming in that the final projections will be about $400,000 under budget. There were a lot of contingencies built into the project, anticipated potential increases in supply costs; and that’s even with the temporary electrical panels being put into the budget. That is looking like some very good numbers given the Covid construction times.”

Ptacek says that the renovation is now in the stage where you can really start to see where the school is starting to be put back together: “You can really see the changes taking place. As you go through the whole demolition portion, it seems to take forever. Then, you go through the deep structural construction portion, which is your HVAC systems, your electrical systems, and your plumbing systems. That can take a long time without really seeing anything done. Then, they start putting in the cabinetry, the drywall, and the ceiling. Soon it will be the flooring. Then, you’ll immediately start seeing things appear. I’m starting to also be convinced that it will be done in a timely manner so that we have the Washington kids in the building at the beginning of next school year.”

Roads complimented Missouri Terrazzo on their work in the building, filling in every single hole throughout the building. The Board of Education officially approved a second payment to the company for their work and Johnco’s 9th payment for the renovation. Ptacek also told the board that the district received its first pay request for the modular classrooms from Vesta Modular, which the board also approved. Board members are expecting to take a tour of the renovation in the coming weeks.