During a special meeting Monday, the USD 413 Board of Education unanimously approved funds for facility upgrades at two district locations. The meeting was called for the purpose of expediting the overall process.
A large chunk of the meeting focused on repairs to Chanute Elementary School. Areas to be worked on include a trio of courtyard walls and an entire section of the school’s roof. Architect David Stewart, of El Dorado-based Gravity Works, provided the board an overview of the courtyard/roof project. Stewart was joined by Curtis Winter, of DCS Services. As project manager, Winter is tasked with procuring bids.
“This project is really going to act kind of like the exploratory surgery of this process,” Stewart told the board. “There are concerns about water in places that water shouldn’t be, in walls around the district. And certainly at (CES), around that south courtyard. The south side of that south courtyard has probably been one of the bigger offenders over the years. With the guidance of district administration, we felt like that was the low-hanging fruit to attack on the front-end of this thing.”
The full scope of the project includes peeling back and tearing off the section of roof that intersects with the south side of the south courtyard. New roofing will go up in that location. In a corresponding move, the entire south wall “from corner to corner” will be dismantled. Stewart indicated this will be done in an effort to pinpoint the underlying issue.
“Our hope is to discover what type of long-term problem is occurring there,” he said. “We know we’ve got some water coming in from overhead and from the wall system. We’re also going to pay very close attention to the base of the wall system.”
Stewart said upon completion of the project, there should be “zero excuses” for the wall and roof systems to absorb any further water infiltration. Stewart added that the base of the courtyard will be outfitted with new metal paneling, replacing the older masonry.
“We also recognize that this was part of a larger-phased process,” he said, “so we felt it was important to attack a piece that we could manage in the course of a summer.”
Board member Jeff Caldwell asked Stewart if the exploratory work on the south side wall will yield solutions for the other courtyard walls.
“Is the (south side wall) what we’re looking at cost-wise to do every wall?” Caldwell inquired.
“You’re probably going to discover the construction of all 12 walls in those three courtyards,” Winter replied.
“Is that what we’re potentially looking at, 12 times this number?” Caldwell asked.
Superintendent Kellen Adams interjected.
“The (south side) is the most problematic wall,” he said. “It’s the only one that I’m aware of that has several classrooms that are adjacent to it that leak (into) the classroom. So that’s why we chose this one first. The idea is, we can’t see what’s behind it until we get the curtain off.”
Adams also noted patch-and-repair work on the school’s roof has exceeded $30,000 “over the course of several years.” Adams added that he is not aware of similar work having been done on the courtyard walls.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Adams asked the architect Stewart. “But I don’t think there’s any greater scope than what we’re recommending here, short of taking the building completely and totally down.”
The combined bid of $169,465.18 went to El Dorado-based Stanfield Roofing, Inc., and Neodesha-based Goins Concrete. The vast majority of the dollar figure, however, went to Stanfield.
“It was a very productive meeting. I appreciate board members giving up their lunch,” Adams told The Tribune. “Typically, we would do this at a regular meeting, but the timing is such that these needed approval so that we can get the supply orders going, and so the necessary vendors can get their materials.”
Adams said he was pleased with the inquisitive-nature of the board members.
“That’s the kind of conversation that leads me to believe that we have some really great people leading this board,” he said. “Not only are they being inquisitive, but they’re also looking out for the longevity and the future of the district.”
Adams cited Caldwell for asking excellent questions.
“He’s already seeing down the road,” Adams said. “’Hey, if we need to replicate the scope of work here, what are we looking at down the road?’ That’s the kind of conversation that I enjoy seeing.”
The expected date to “mobilize” the project is June 1.
“What we don’t want to do is disrupt the remainder of the school year,” Adams said, with the final day falling on May 27. “It’s still subject to final negotiations with the contactor, but that gives them the full length of the summer to do the work.”
Adams elaborated on the potential duration of the project.
“The work is outside, which helps,” he said. “The contractors will be able to come in and out to get access to the courtyard, so in my mind, we need to be done by the last week of July at the latest.”
Adams said a primary goal of the district is to invest in quality infrastructure.
“I think the decisions made here today reflect that,” he said. “I appreciate the board’s constant commitment to focusing on our plan.”
The board also unanimously approved:
• A bid from Ernie Morris for furniture for the district’s Education Support Center in the amount $177,272.95.
• A bid from Kansas City Audio-Visual for audio/video equipment for the district’s Education Support Center in the amount of $69,938. Assistant Superintendent Matt Koester noted the bid originally came in at close to $250,000.
. The accepted proposal includes items such as video boards and monitors.
• A bid from Chanute’s Graham Audio and Electronics for audio equipment for the district’s Education Support Center for approximately $27,000.