Elmhurst School Board hires consultants amid long-term facilities planning

District 205 officials also hear concerns of teacher re-assignments

long-term facilities
(Elmhurst Titan file photo)

ELMHURST – The decision is immediate. But its implications could be far off into the future.

In a maneuver officials say is aimed at a forward-thinking mindset, the Elmhurst Community Unit School District hired a construction management firm and an architect.

The decisions, made at a School Board meeting June 20, are an outgrowth of the district’s Focus 205 planning. The hired firms will assist the district in creating a long-term facilities plan and in taking an in-depth look at Elmhurst schools’ capital needs.

Elmhurst-based ICI International Contractor Inc. has been tapped to provide Elmhurst with the construction management services. In this first phase of a potentially larger contractual relationship, District 205 has agreed to pay ICI $20,000 for estimating and consulting services.

In addition to operating in the same community, District 205 officials lauded ICI for a number of other attributes.

In his superintendent’s report, David Moyer said ICI came highly recommended from a number of other nearby school districts, including ones in Elmwood Park, Grayslake and New Lenox.

Darien-based Wight and Company will provide architectural services as some of the logistics with future facilities planning are hammered out.

District 205 has worked with Wight and Company in the past, most recently in preparing a so-called feasibility analysis as a precursor to some of the facilities planning activities that are underway.

“Wight offers a tremendous services that could not easily be matched and an institutional understanding of District 205 and the community of Elmhurst that cannot be replaced,” Moyer wrote in a memo.

Based on terms of the recently adopted agreement, District 205 and Wight have a variable fee structure, where the architects receive a certain percentage, based on the amount of work performed.

“I think the community should be very happy. Every time we ask about procurement processes, we’re looking out for the taxpayers’ money. We’re looking out for the quality of services.”

For example, if the district asks for construction work valued at $2 million to less than $3.5 million, Wight will receive 8.75 percent of the figure.

The agreements, for now, are forward thinking. Board member John McDonough said he was pleased with the level of responses from a request-for-proposals process and administrators’ due diligence throughout the reviews.

“I think the community should be very happy,” McDonough said. “Every time we ask about procurement processes, we’re looking out for the taxpayers’ money. We’re looking out for the quality of services.”

The School Board on June 20 also:

• Heard from a number of concerned parents and, in one instance, a student about a perceived lack of transparency concerning teacher assignments. Board members received the feedback during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Many of the speakers at the recent meeting took aim at district officials for a decision to shuffle art teacher staffing at Field Elementary School.

“I get change. I get that change needs to happen. And I get that change can be a good thing,” said Sarah Jensen, the mother of multiple children attending Field.

But Jensen and other parents questioned the manner the district handled the teacher reshuffling. The announcement reportedly took place after the end of the school year.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Elmhurst Teacher’s Council, the union representing educators, for stipend pay.

The new stipend pay agreement has been a work in progress the past two years, Moyer said. The heavy lifting began in 2015, at the close of the last set of negotiations.

“Our focus was on process – it wasn’t on money,” Moyer said. “But without even thinking about money, we were able to save money. We feel pretty good about our work.”

Moyer said District 205 will save $30,000 annually with the new MOU for stipend pay in place.