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D-428 OKs early childhood center addition to middle school

DeKALB – Huntley Middle School will add a younger set of students to its population. 

The District 428 School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved paying $611,000 to renovate 10 classes in the lower-level of the west wing of Huntley Middle School into an early childhood and pre-kindergarten center and to add air conditioning to five classrooms that will be reopened for eighth-grade students.   

The district will allocate nearly $110,000 for contingency and architect and engineering fees, bringing the cost of the renovation to nearly $721,000.  

“This bid did come in higher than we anticipated by about $100,000,” district operations manager Tammy Carson told board members. 

She explained additional mechanical work and adding air conditioning to the rooms that eighth-grade students will use caused the project to go over budget. 

By moving the pre-kindergarten and early childhood classrooms from the district’s crowded elementary schools into a centralized block of 10 classrooms at Huntley Middle School, the district would free seven classrooms across Brooks, Jefferson, Littlejohn and Tyler elementary schools. It also will allow the district to remove a couple of the trailers it uses for classrooms, Carson said. 

The Finance and Facilities Advisory Committee, which is in charge of recommending ways to spend a $21 million construction grant the district received in October 2010, has vetted the idea of a pre-kindergarten and early childhood center for nearly two years.

Board member Tom Matya pointed to all of the other work happening in the district that the FFAC has recommended, including the renovation to Tyler Elementary. 

“We’re going to spend just under $5 million in building enhancements throughout the district this year and I think that’s pretty significant,” Matya said.

To pay for the new center, the district will spend $500,000 from the construction grant with the remainder coming from the district’s operations and maintenance budget.  

Construction at Huntley Middle School will start this summer.

The project approved by the board did not include bids to add air conditioning to the 10 classrooms that will be converted for the early childhood and pre-kindergarten center because of a lack of bids. The district budgeted about $205,000 for that portion of the project.

District officials plan to rebid for air conditioning in those 10 classrooms in summer 2015. 

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