The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board Monday night moved ahead on proposals for construction at Lincolnwood Elementary and the three middle schools, including the elimination of the controversial entrance gates at Chute Middle School.

By a unanimous 7-0 vote, the board authorized the district’s consulting architect “to proceed with the development of detailed drawings and bid specifications” for the projects with the understanding that they have the right to withhold funding for actual construction due to lack of funding or for any other reason.

The Board’s action followed a recommendation of its Finance Committee at its June 12 meeting.

For two of the middle schools, Haven and Nichols, the proposals are in two parts, a base bid and a bid for additional work if the board considers it feasible.

At Haven, the base option, estimated at $1.4 million, would provide for enlarging the cafeteria to accommodate 280 students, or 60 more than the 220 today for each lunch period.  It would also add three classrooms by converting current space and moving drama classes to the auditorium. The alternate option, at an additional $2.6 million, would add four classrooms through a building addition.

At Nichols, the district projected the need for five additional classrooms, expanded cafeteria space, and a renovated library/media center.

The base option at Nichols, estimated to cost $1.7 million, would expand the cafeteria and replace a fire escape with a new stairway, as well as additional office space. The option, estimated at an additional $2.5 million, would add six classrooms through a building addition, upgrades the media center, and creates a secure entrance.

The Chute work, added at the last minute after parents complained of a jail-like atmosphere because of existing security gates, would include a new “welcome center” and administrative space, including a secure entrance that would eliminate the controversial “bars.” Estimated construction costs are $1.2 million.

Lincolnwood Elementary was projected to need two additional classrooms. The base option, estimated at $1 million, includes a two-classroom addition, secure entrance, new main office, and an elevator.

The cost of the detailed drawings and bid specifications authorized Monday night are estimated at $708,481, which would be paid from bond proceeds. The architect’s fees would be 20 percent less, for an estimated $566,785, if the projects fail to proceed to construction, according to a memo from Superintendent Hardy Murphy.

If the board should authorize all of the construction after bids are received, the estimated total cost would be $10.4 million.

Board member Jerome Summers, citing the rejected referendum in March that would have included a new elementary school in Evanston’s 5th Ward, advocated delay on these projects pending a thorough “vision” for the district, but his colleagues on the board rejected that procedure because of the immediate need for the additional space, based upon enrollment projections.

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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