The drawings and design of a new elementary school in the Washington School District are nearing completion, according to Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer.
The school will replace the aging and outdated South Point Elementary. It will be built on a 75-acre parcel the district owns on Highway 100 east near St. John’s Road.
Last week, school officials met with their architects, Art Bond and Lori Everett of Bond Architects, St. Louis, to continue value engineering.
“This is a time when we work through the costs of particular systems, materials and approaches in order to get within budget,” VanLeer said. “This week, we will have a mechanical systems and plumbing meeting and the following week we will be meeting on hardware throughout the building.”
Value engineering is critical, she said.
“We want to position ourselves to ensure the specifications are very clear for contractors that will be bidding on the project and that takes time,” VanLeer said. “The building will be efficient, but also progressive, considering it will be one of our elementary schools for many years into the future.”
School officials have already held meetings to design and value engineer equipment associated with the cafeteria/kitchen areas, along with almost every other aspect of the building.
VanLeer said the architects will share the drawings and provide an update on the project at the Wednesday, Oct. 23, school board meeting.
“They will likely be joined by engineers working on the project as well,” she said.
Following the October board meeting, VanLeer said she will share the design with South Point parents and the community. A date for that presentation has not yet been set.
VanLeer said the new school is slated to open in August 2021, or worst case, in December of that year.
School officials have said the target size for the two-story school is 75,000 to 80,000 square feet. It will be designed to serve up to 550 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
School officials began meeting this past spring with Bond Architects on the design after district patrons overwhelmingly approved a $26 million no-tax increase bond issue in April for construction of a new school and safety upgrades at all district buildings, including secure vestibule entryways, purchase of visitor management systems and ADA accessibility improvements.
The floor plan and general ideas for interior and exterior finishes and materials have been shared with the building leadership team from South Point School, which is comprised of teachers and administrators, and in a school board facilities committee meeting.
VanLeer said the plan is to have all of the specifications and bid documents ready to go out to bid early in 2020.
A contract could be awarded as early as February so that construction can begin in the spring and early summer.
The new school building is estimated to cost $23 to $24 million.
The vestibule entrances and security packages for all school buildings are estimated to cost $2 to $3 million depending upon final design and site work determinations.
The safety improvements will be bid as one project and that work is expected to take place next summer.
Previously, VanLeer said the new school will be built on the north or back side of the property along Old Highway 100. No decision has been made on what to do with the remaining property once the school is built, she said.
School board members have walked the Highway 100 property to best determine its use. The property was purchased prior to VanLeer being named superintendent and predates almost all of the current board members.