ROWVA board expanding new school building options

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Linda Bell wrote the article below for in Illinois discussing the expansion of schools using modular buildings. A full version of this article can found by clicking here


Traditional building costs have the ROWVA District 208 School Board planning a field trip to investigate a different type of building construction for a proposed new elementary building to replace East and Central schools.

Superintendent Lloyd Little will make plans for the board to visit Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, a modular school building in Gary, Ind., when the board goes to the Illinois Association of School Boards annual convention in Chicago later this month.

Little said at a special board meeting Tuesday that he and board member Rob Kalb had been discussing alternatives to traditional construction after the board received revised building plans from Farnsworth Architect Group earlier this month. Kalb visited the Gary, Ind., school while on a business trip in the area and was impressed.

“It’s in its fourth year and looked great,” Kalb said of the urban junior-senior high school.

Kalb said a modular building would cost $60 a square foot compared to a $175 per square foot for traditional construction, not including any furnishings. The Gary, Ind., school cost was $188 per square foot, including furnishings. A variety of options are available for the outside of the building. The Gary, Ind., school district built a traditional gymnasium rather than a modular.

Kalb said modular units are 14 feet wide and 70 feet long, come prewired, can be finished with floor decking, wallboard, with true ceilings on the interior and sheathing and roof membrane on the exterior. Such a building could be designed to be moved later, if desired.

He said modular buildings are projected to last 35-50 years, about the same as regular construction.

Little is familiar with modular buildings since he has worked in a district with modular buildings in the past.

Lower building costs might allow the district to build a larger building than the most recent revised building plans presented by Farnsworth.

Several board members had expressed concern about building a facility that was not really large enough for the district’s needs.

Prior to the discussion about modular buildings, David Pistorius, bond underwriter for First Midstate Inc. Investment Bankers, spoke to the board about its options for financing a new building, which essentially would be a life safety replacement project.

His conservative estimate for interest rates on bonds the district might purchase was 4.95 percent.

Little said the board has not discussed if any of the district’s reserve funds would be used for the proposed building project. The district currently has 10-11 months in reserves.

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