Board signs off on revised Culver addition

The District 71 school board approved a new plan to build a two-story addition to Culver School at its Sept. 13 meeting.

Supt. John Kosirog said groundbreaking is scheduled for June 2023, with completion expected in fall 2024. School officials had originally planned to start the project this year, but unexpectedly high construction bids—due to the pandemic and access to affordable materials—prompted them to step back and look for ways to reduce costs.

Since the decision to delay, the board worked closely with architectural firm STR Partners of Chicago and construction manager Gilbane Building Co. of Rhode Island and Chicago on engineering and design changes, then put the entire project out for rebidding. The new bids are expected to keep the project $500,000 under an $18.5 million budget (including contingencies).

 “We are really excited to give the new addition project the final go-ahead,” said Board President Matt Holbrook. “Over the past 10 months, we studied every detail of the project for ways to reduce costs so we can do as much as possible for our students and community.”

The revised project will include a new full-sized gym and stage, a new preschool wing with two classrooms and a playground, and a new fine arts center with art, band, orchestra, and music classrooms. It also will provide space for a middle school “learning stair” (see rendering at left) and library, two new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) classrooms, and two new full-sized, general-purpose classrooms.

The project is to be paid for from a combination of federal Elementary and Secondary School Relief (ESSER) funds, district savings, and revenue resulting from the expiration of a tax-increment financing (TIF) district. The project will not increase property taxes or require a referendum.

“We are so happy that the addition project is one big step closer to reality,” Kosirog said. “I can’t wait to see the little ones on the new preschool playground, watch games in the air-conditioned gym, and see our students learning and performing in the new fine arts spaces.”