The Union R-XI School District is not slowing down this summer.
Since school ended in late May, the district has been in the midst of its busiest summer in recent memory, district officials said. Three major construction projects are ongoing and one more is set to start in August.
It’s a busy time, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mike Mabe.
In April 2018 voters in the district approved a $27 million bond issue, known as Prop Wildcats, for school improvements. The measure will allow the district to better handle a population influx.
With the bond, the district made plans to build a new elementary school, made alterations to Beaufort Elementary, an addition to Union Middle School and get a new maintenance building.
All but the middle school work has begun.
The last project to bid will likely be the first project finished.
Earlier this year the district opted against building a new maintenance facility and instead purchased a building at 21 Progress Parkway from ADB Companies, Inc.
The district had planned to build a 9,000-square-foot maintenance facility near Clark-Vitt Elementary, but scrapped those plans to buy the old ADB building. Because of site work, the project was estimated to cost around $1.9 million.
Mabe gave The Missourian a tour of the site in late May and he raved about the new facility.
The former site of ADB Companies Inc. will now be the home to the district’s central office, technology department and maintenance staff. The building has more than 20 offices — plenty of space for everyone to have their own office, Mabe said.
As part of the sale, the district will keep furniture and amenities. Several large TV monitors are spread throughout the building.
The new facility also has multiple meeting spaces. At some point, the school board meetings will move out to the building, Mabe said.
The facility will have two rooms for the board. One room is intended to be a place for school board members to have private executive sessions. The other will be a standard meeting room.
The future meeting room is currently full of items from Beaufort Elementary. Mabe said during that ongoing project, the district was looking for places to store items and the new facility bore the brunt of the storage.
Crews are spending the summer renovating the building to suit the district’s needs. Part of the renovation includes the addition of a new refrigerator/freezer for the food services department.
Other work includes organizing and setting up the workspace. Mabe said the goal of the maintenance facility is to have everything on pallets.
He said the plan is to build up and use forklifts to move things around easier.
The renovations are expected to be done this summer. Part of the district staff already is working out of the new building. Mabe said central office staff will leave the high school sometime in the fall when maintenance crews are less busy.
The Beaufort Elementary renovations are slated to wrap next.
The district is building a new gym and doing major renovations to the interior of the building. A major abatement project is underway which means the building will have plenty of new flooring and paint.
The office area also is being redone.
The new gym is designed to be a storm shelter. Mabe said gone are the days of duck and cover in the hallway. With the gym, students will simply be able to head to the gym during emergencies.
The old gym is being renovated as well to include new classrooms and the library will be relocated there.
All the work is expected to be finished by the opening of the 2019-20 school year. The first day of school is scheduled to be Thursday, Aug. 22.
Wright Construction, St. Peters, is the general contractor for the project.
Further down the road as far as construction goes is the still unnamed elementary school.
The new school is being built off Prairie Dell Road and Progress Parkway near East Central College. The school is scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year.
After several weeks battling soil issues, work is moving forward at the site.
The school is planned to comfortably fit 600 students and, at a maximum, house 900. Each classroom is designed to fit up to 25 students.
A road connecting Progress Parkway and Prairie Dell Road also is being constructed as part of the project.
While work may look slow going, Mabe said a lot has taken place. While battling the soil issues, crews kept working to get a lot of the underground working done — work like adding water and sewer lines.
In total the project is more than 25 percent finished. The St. Louis-based ICS is the general contractor.
The final Prop Wildcats project will be an addition to the middle school.
Work has yet to start. Crews are waiting for the maintenance facility to be finished so the old maintenance building can be emptied and moved.
Once that’s done, the old maintenance building will be razed making way for the new addition. Work is expected to start in August.
The middle school addition will include 12 new classrooms on the west side of the building. The addition is expected to be just under 12,000 square feet.
As part of the plan, a new fire lane will be constructed as well as a new traffic circle. The circle will be used for pickup and dropoff.
With the new circle, students will no longer be dropped off and have to cross West End Avenue.
LayneCo Construction Services, O’Fallon, is the general contractor for the work.