Washington Elementary Renovation Delays Pushes Eisenhower Renovation Timeline

By Benjamin Cox on February 17, 2023 at 1:24pm

Interior work being done at Washington Elementary School from a walk-through on January 19th. (Jacksonville School District 117)

Jacksonville School District 117 bought themselves some time with one project and pushed the deadline on another last night.

The District 117 Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of Superintendent Steve Ptacek’s recommendation to purchase and install temporary electrical panels at Washington Elementary to continue renovation progress. The back up plan will initially cost the district just under $58,500 and then just under $6,900 a month while the temporary panels are in place. Ptacek says it’s a costly back up plan, but it’s a necessary one at this point: “The temporary panels serve two purposes. First, if we wait on the main panel that’s scheduled to come in May, there are many jobs that have to wait until the power is up and running. So, by installing the temporary panels now, we’re going to allow those jobs to be completed earlier, which is very important at this point in time. The second, main purpose that I brought this to the board is that we don’t have any guarantee that main panel is going to be delivered on May 2nd and get here in a timely manner. Everyone is calling this ‘Covid delays.’ We’re passed Covid. It’s just construction and manufacturing delays right now. There is every chance we may find out that there is an August deadline, and if we don’t have power to the building, the job doesn’t get done. We can’t take that risk. No one is to blame for this. This is what is happening in the industry right now with delays in supplies and delays in services. So, the board made the decision to spend money to get those temporary panels in here, so we can get the job done, and then, if we have a delay on the main panel, that is not going to impact the opening of the school.”

Ptacek says that delays in Washington in general has now caused the district to decide to delay Eisenhower’s renovation schedule. Ptacek says that Eisenhower students will be in the modular classrooms next year because Eisenhower’s renovations now won’t begin until mid-to-late August: “The original plan was to get Washington done, Eisenhower done over the summer, and then, both are back in this Fall and we can actually get rid of the modulars completely. I can’t be convinced that Eisenhower is going to get done over the summer. The delays on Eisenhower is more about the lack of confidence that we can get Eisenhower done over the summer. If we can’t get Eisenhower done over the summer, and therefore Eisenhower is going to be in the modulars next year, I want to delay the start of Eisenhower to be sure that Washington’s done. I want to ensure we don’t get in that horrible situation of both schools under construction with only one place for them to go. Since we know Eisenhower can’t be done in the time that we did South or Lincoln based upon the modern business climate, we’re going to delay the start to Eisenhower to ensure Washington’s done before we start Eisenhower. Therefore, we only have one school under construction with a set of modular classrooms here.”

Ptacek says he, the district architect, and Vision 117 Project Manager Bob Roads will be getting together to finalize sub-contractor and renovation schedules on Washington within the next week. Ptacek says he’ll also be doing a walk-through of Washington to ensure that the contractor’s schedule is up-to-date, accurate, and all pieces of the renovation are moving on time.