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Even though the Finance Committee of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 this week rejected the bids for constructing a walking track at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and  Fine Arts School, there is still hope for the project, according to Superintendent Paul Goren.

The main problem  is that the $35,000 raised by the school’s PTA turned out to be considerably less than the bids that were submitted, which ranged from $64,700 to $118,140.

Until the financing can be arranged, the board would be unable to accept the PTA’s donation, according to Mary Brown, the district’s chief financial officer.

But the superintendent said Thursday that “we will work with the PTA to determine the next course of action and hopefully receive future bids that will match available resources.”

In fact, the committee motion to reject the bids came with an additional assurance that if funds become available, the district would rebid the project.

Goren said further: ‘We are truly appreciative of the efforts of the King Arts PTA to raise money for a track. We were all surprised that the bids that came in far exceeded the resources available.”

The PTA came up with the $35,000 figure, the committee was told, when a contractor told them he could build it for that price, but when the district developed the specifications, it was for a deeper base than anticipated by the PTA’s contractor, and when bids were called for, he said he did not have sufficient time to submit a bid.

Nevertheless, the bids that were submitted were consistent with the estimate made by the district’s site and improvement architect, according to Brown.

The deeper base was required to enable the track to hold up under winter weather conditions, including the stress of plowing snow off the track, Brown added.

Even after a bid is accepted, there is a possibility that additional costs will be required as the district obtains the necessary permits from the city, she warned, that might even raise “storm water management issues.”

So for now, the fate of the track, similar to those at Orrington Elementary School and Haven Middle School, is back in the hands of the school’s PTA, Goren said, with the expectation that the organization’s contractor will be one of the bidders next time around.

Related story:

Board turns down PTA on King Arts track

Charles Bartling

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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