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District officials say construction work for $1.4 million addition on schedule at Roosevelt Elementary School

Work is underway on the walls of the seven-room kindergarten addition at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar. Kue Contractors of Watkins has the $1 million contract to build the addition. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

WILLMAR -- A dry July let contractors get poor soils replaced and footings installed for the expansion of Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar.

"Things are going along real well," according to project architect Evan Larson of GLT Architects of St. Cloud,

Saturday night's driving rain may have slowed the work a bit, but it would have been much worse if it had come when the worksite was a large hole in the ground.

So far, the contractors have not encountered any surprises in soil replacement needs, and the project is on schedule, Larson said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Kue Contractors of Watkins has a $1 million contract to build the seven-room kindergarten classroom addition at Roosevelt. The contract has a completion date of Dec. 14.

Eight contractors bid on the project in June, and all the bids were less than the original estimate of $1.28 million.

"It's a good time to build something," Larson said. "Just a few years ago, it would have been significantly more money to build what they're building now."

Though the walls of the project are barely started, school officials have been choosing tiles, carpet and paint colors already, said Rich Olson, the district's health and safety director. Having those choices made will help the project keep moving ahead, he added.

The addition at Roosevelt will make room for all students in grades K-5 at the district's two largest elementary schools. It's part of the district's reorganization of grades K-8, which includes closing two buildings.

Kindergarten students who will attend Roosevelt will begin the school year in Lincoln Elementary School. Once the addition opens, Lincoln will be closed.

Larson said the contractor would finish work inside the school before students start the school year Sept. 8.

Construction will continue on the addition after school starts, but it's expected to cause minimal disruption in the school.

The addition is a self-contained wing on the north side of the building, and noise shouldn't be a problem, Larson said.

The design of the addition should work well for the school, he said.

The students will have lockers in their hallway and will be near the gym and cafeteria. The doorway to the kindergarten wing is across the hallway from the school office.

"It works out so much better for kindergarten students," Larson said "Everything they need is right in their area."

The full cost of the project is budgeted at about $1.4 million, including architects' fees and contingencies.

The School Board recently approved the sale of the former Washington Learning Center for $400,000. The sale proceeds will be used to help pay for the Roosevelt addition.

The rest of the funding will come from the district's annual operating capital revenue. Funding could also come from the general fund if needed.

Because much of the usual capital funding was diverted to the Roosevelt project, the district's other projects were smaller than other years, Olson said.

"The move has just been huge," Olson said. Moving classroom materials bet-ween buildings for the district's restructuring may not have left time for other projects anyway, he said.

The district's custodians are "a talented bunch of men and women" who have helped with the move and also done a lot of normal maintenance, like stripping, sealing and waxing floors. Lockers were moved from one school to another to accommodate the shift in students.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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