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June 24, 2014

$6M Creekside expansion moving forward

— Limestone school officials have settled on the scope for an expansion at Creekside Elementary School, recently approving a $6 million plan prepared by project architect Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood.

The expansion is part of the school system’s ongoing, two-phase capital plan, which the board has updated multiple times since first approving it in March 2013. The board approved a $6 million budget for Creekside in April as part of a $25 million bond issue, which is helping to pay for several of the system’s capital projects.

The larger budget will allow Creekside to build at least 22 classrooms, replacing 18 portables at the system’s largest elementary. The K-5 school will be divided into separate wings for grades K-2 and 3-5, qualifying the school system for additional funding units from the state for a library media specialist, custodian and administrator.

“This is the most cost-effective (option),” Sisk said during the board’s June 6 work session. “It’s a school-within-a-school concept. We have three administrators serving 1,100 students, and funding for one of those could be picked up by the state.”

Sisk said the money the system will save from receiving the extra state units could be used to pay for the project’s debt service. He said an assistant elementary principal costs about $60,000.

The $5.4 million estimated base bid features 22 classrooms, music room, nursing clinic, teacher workroom, gymnasium and an administrative suite. The gym will have a high-school regulation, hardwood court and bleacher seating for 440 people.

A community committee helped shape what would be part of the base bid, ranking the project’s five possible add-ons. These will be used in that order once the costs for the base bid are finalized, Sisk said.

“The most important piece is the base bid ... we’re hoping it will come in less than the estimate,” he said.

The first two alternatives would add a total of four more classrooms, while the third would create 40 parking spaces behind the school. The fourth option is for 30 more spaces and a new school entry, while the fifth would boost the cafeteria’s seating capacity to 180 students.

“The alternates have been prioritized by the parents, teachers and (community stakeholders),” Sisk said. “The administration at Creekside wanted $7 million, but I said we had to keep within the $6 million budget approved by the board. We’re still replacing 18 portables with 22 concrete classrooms.”

The two-phase expansion could begin in November, according to project officials.

“We’ll maximize the classroom capability immediately, and the gymnasium will be in Phase II. The idea is to be the least disruptive so we’ll move in those classrooms and then finish the gymnasium.” said Gary Owen, vice president of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood’s education division, during the work session. “The whole point was to really tie in the new addition so that it felt like part of the campus — one feel, one building.”

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