'Going smoothly' | Various USD 383 construction projects on track for August completion

·5 min read

Jul. 3—USD 383 construction owner's representative Trisha Brooke-Fruendt said the district's multiple construction projects that are slated to finish this year will wrap up on time.

"It's going to be a busy push to finish this summer," Brooke-Fruendt said. "Our goal of course is to stay within budget and try to finish out what's in the bond issue."

The $129.5 million bond, passed in 2018 by Riley County voters, tackles several building maintenance and renovation projects. District assistant superintendent Eric Reid said he's "really impressed" with the work from McCownGordon Construction and BG Construction. McCownGordon is handling work at the middle schools and high school, as well as the support service buildings, while BG is tackling the elementary schools and preschools. BHS Construction also is working with Hutton on the district's newest building, Oliver Brown Elementary.

Oliver Brown Elementary

Brooke-Fruendt said Oliver Brown is "coming along nicely," as the contractors finish their work. She said all the concrete is poured, with curbing not yet completed around the playgrounds. The playground equipment is installed, with the exception of the turf system, and Brooke-Fruendt said she is hoping the turf will be installed in the next couple of weeks.

"The contractor and I have been walking through the building, doing our pre-punch list of things to complete," Brooke-Fruendt said.

Furniture for librarians and administrators has arrived, along with desks and chairs for students, but Brooke-Fruendt said some of the furniture she ordered was delayed. She said it will take another two weeks to "get everything shook out" inside the new school.

"We'll have one more delivery the first of August, just in time for our big grand opening," Brooke-Fruendt said. "I'm excited about that. We'll be happy to have the Brown family come in and see the building. It's dramatically changed since The Mercury toured it in April."

Oliver Brown Elementary is named for the plaintiff in the historic Brown v. Board of Education court ruling which led to the desegregation of public schools in the United States.

Bergman Elementary

Brooke-Fruendt said Frank Bergman Elementary School is "moving right along." The renovation to that building was extensive; she said the work essentially involved gutting the school's interior. The building has new paint on the walls, new ceiling tile and a brand-new HVAC system as well as a new sprinkler system.

"That building is going to have a complete refresh," Brooke-Fruendt said. "When people come back, they'll be quite surprised with everything that's happened to their building."

Brooke-Fruendt said she estimates about 99% of Bergman Elementary is new, including the storm shelter and administration area. She said that project is ahead of schedule, with carpeting being installed next week and furniture to be moved in after that.

Marlatt Elementary

In Marlatt Elementary, the kitchen and main hallway are being renovated. Brooke-Fruendt said painting and carpet installation will happen in two weeks. New LED lighting is installed in classrooms, and the parking lot is being enlarged. She said the entire parking area is complete, and "it's quite a big lot."

"Hopefully that will help with some congestion," Brooke-Fruendt said. "Once the renovation is done, buses will no longer pick up and drop off students on Browning Street. They will go to the front of the school as originally designed."

Lee Elementary

At Lee Elementary, workers demolished the annex buildings at the corner of Anderson Avenue and Canfield Drive last week. This will be the site of a new parking lot with sidewalk upgrades. Brooke-Fruendt said that project will be done by the middle of July.

Anthony, Eisenhower

middle schools

Brooke-Fruendt said furniture is being delivered to both Anthony and Eisenhower middle schools, as those projects track to completion on schedule. Workers are installing heat pumps and ceiling tiles and renovating the special education rooms in Eisenhower Middle School. All classrooms at Eisenhower are getting new carpeting, while other spaces are getting a new epoxy-type flooring poured. Those should be completed by the first of August.

"Teachers are getting ready to come back on Aug. 9, and we should be ready for them," Brooke-Fruendt said.

Anthony Middle School renovations are also set to be completed in the first week of August. The school building is also receiving new carpeting and furniture.

Manhattan High

At Manhattan High School, the synthetic turf field is complete and will be ready for fall sports practice. The new tennis courts are poured and fencing is being installed around them. A metal storage building meant for maintenance, band and athletics is almost complete. Locker rooms are being finished while exterior brick work on the wellness center is underway. For the east campus, Brooke-Fruendt said both slabs for the "D" and "E" wing expansions are finished, and the crane needed to install steel for the expansions is coming next week.

Other projects

Brooke-Fruendt said the new district warehouse is finally complete, and she said she "is happy to say we're done with it." The new facility at 810 Levee Drive is 16,000 square feet and sits on about five acres.

Brooke-Fruendt said one of the challenges she is facing getting these projects completed is the increased cost of construction materials. She said the cost of all construction-related needs — from lumber to labor — is at an all-time high.

"Construction materials never really went up with the cost of inflation in 2008 and 2009, but this year it seems like they decided to make up for 12 years of not having inflation going up," Brooke-Fruendt said. "Now we're seeing the effects of that."

Brooke-Fruendt said she anticipates seeing those costs increase for another six months. She said that will impact the schedule for renovations to Amanda Arnold, Bluemont, Northview, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson elementary schools. Work at Ogden Elementary isn't scheduled to begin until summer 2022.

"It's very important and necessary for us to get busy and started on those last few elementary schools," Brooke-Fruendt said. "It's not quite the schedule we wanted, but it'll have to do."

Reid said he is grateful for renovations going "as smoothly as they have."

"There's always something that pops up to make it more difficult," Reid said. "We've just got to fight through it because we're starting school in August, and we've got to be ready."

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