The Union R-XI school board kicked off the summer by hiring several firms that will be instrumental in preparing the land where the new elementary school is set to be constructed.

The school board awarded bids for land surveying, civil engineering and geotechnical work Wednesday, May 30, at special meeting of the school board.

The new elementary school will be located on district-owned land between Prairie Dell Road and Progress Parkway, just off Highway 50. Work has been ongoing since the $27 million no-tax increase bond Prop Wildcats passed in April.

The district awarded bids to owner representatives, companies who are hired to manage and execute the design of a construction project, to Navigate Building Solutions and approved a financial advising agreement with Sentry Financial Advisors.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Mabe said getting these bids nailed down is an important step toward constructing the new elementary school. He said Navigate Building Solutions will be a big part of executing the design HTK Architects provides.

As for the district’s new financial advising partnership with Sentry, Mabe said with the biggest bond the district’s ever had, its services will be important.

Wunderlich Surveying & Engineering, Inc. was awarded both the civil engineering and land surveying bids, while Cochran Engineering & Surveying was awarded the geotech inspection bid. A bid for special inspections will be decided on at a later date.

Mabe said crews will be working over the summer, surveying the new school’s land.

As for the design of the building, Mabe said he hopes the exterior of the new school will be completely designed by the Monday, June 25, meeting of the school board.

As the last meeting of the board, HTK Architects heard feedback from the school board on the roofing for the building. Different styles were discussed, including gable roofing that could hide roofing units.

HTK Architect President Mark Franzen said the firm will be bringing back a design that tries to accomplish both the look the board is seeking and the function.

Mabe said it’s important to try to hide the units on the roof because of the high elevation surrounding the school. He said from East Central College, the air-conditioning units on top of a normal building would be the first thing people see.

He said, although it may sound silly, choosing what type of roof the building will have is a big part of the process.

The interior of the building is currently being designed by HTK, Mabe said.

He said these are the early steps of construction and noted that he was happy with the firms the school board approved. He said these steps are a big part of the overall process.

“It’s exciting,” Mabe said. “It’s a good feeling to have these different services selected now. It’s more people on team Union.”