Danedri Thompson
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Construction on the new elementary school is on target. Gary Diener, USD 231 director of operations, told school board members he anticipates the building will be ready for students next fall.
“The elementary school is doing well. It’s within budget and scheduled to open in August,” Diener said during the Sept. 10 school board meeting.
The buildings are beginning to take shape, Diener said. At the construction site, foundation and masonry work continues, and steel installation for walls is in progress. Walls for the elementary school’s gym are already up, he said.
Plans for a new middle school are still in the design stages. Board members approved 16 contracts for a variety of construction projects related to the project on Monday night.
Diener said the district received more than 100 bids, and general contractors overseeing the project thoroughly reviewed the bids and firms before recommending the 16 contracts the board approved Monday night.
He explained that the district is required to accept the lowest responsible bid.
“It’s important to identify what ‘responsible’ means,” he told board members.
General contractors researched how long bidding firms have been in business, ensured they had Johnson County licenses, determined whether bidding firms had done similar projects in scope, and researched whether the firms were the subject of litigation before making recommendations to the board. The bids awarded are within the budget.
“A lot of work has gone into the conclusions that are recommended,” Diener said.
Some contracts for things like landscaping, painting and flooring will be awarded at a later date.
The construction of the elementary and middle schools are part of a $72 million bond issues voters approved last January. The bond package includes approximately $18 million for an elementary school; $30 million for a middle school; and $7 million for the construction of a multi-purpose activities center at the high school.
Upgrades to the high school football field  are largely complete.
The elementary school is scheduled to open for the 2013-2014 school year. The middle school is set to open one year later.