Schools approve nearly $3M for improvements


Rock Island-Milan schools approve nearly $3M for Washington Junior High improvements

Washington Jr. High school in Rock Island will get nearly $3 million in renovation that was approved Tuesday night.


School board members Tuesday approved $2.93 million in bids for improvements at Washington Junior High School. The renovation and cafeteria expansion project, previously estimated at $2.1 million, now includes funding for a canopy connector, new flooring and a roof replacement.

Construction Manager Bill Bruce of Bush Construction told Rock Island-Milan board members that crews would break ground on the project as soon as possible, as early as next week. The project is expected to be completed by summer of 2021, but Bruce said crews will push to get as much work done before the weather turns.

That push will be particularly focused on the roof replacement. Board members approved the alternate bid of $760,112 for that work. Bruce said sometimes the adhesives required for the roof membrane required certain temperatures. Any work that cannot be completed this season will be finished in the spring, he said.

Chief Financial Officer Bob Beckwith said board members were alerted at the prior meeting that the roof was “needing desperate repair” and cost estimates ranged from $700,000 to $850,000. Beckwith said, upon further review, it was determined there was significant damage to the underlayment and a complete roof replacement was needed.

Other alternate bids approved by the board for this project include $58,133 for a canopy connector and $20,779 for corridor flooring replacement.

The district bonded out for $2.1 million of the project. Beckwith said the additional funds would come from 1% sales tax dollars.

Superintendent Reginald Lawrence said he recently toured the building and said the building’s poor roof, plus the longstanding repair needs, really showed through.

“It looks as though the walls are melting based on years of maintenance needs,” he said.

Also Tuesday, board members agreed to purchase $167,178 in personal protective equipment and materials. That purchase, in part, includes $12,000 for N95 masks, $36,580 for disc walk-behind scrubbers, $40,255 for restroom cleaner and $38,379 for carpet extractors. The purchase also includes $17,780 for a scissor lift. Beckwith said the district would use CARES Act funding for those items.

Lawrence told school board members Tuesday the district was in its second week of blended learning after beginning the school year fully remotely. He said he had heard nothing but positive responses regarding teachers and students getting to see each other.

“Also, on the flip side, there’s bittersweet news,” he said. “Just today I was informed of several positive cases.”

Information about the number of positive COVID-19 cases reported by staff and students was not available on the district’s website as of Tuesday evening. Neighboring districts, including Moline-Coal Valley and United Township High School District, are reporting positive cases on district websites.

Lawrence said the district was continuing to follow protocols and working closely with the Rock Island Department of Public Health to ensure the schools could stay open as safely as possible for as long as possible.

“We do know with rising COVID levels in our county and our region, as long as schools continue to stay open, there’s alway a possibility of COVID spreading,” he said.

He asked for the continued cooperation from families to share any symptoms with the district in order to mitigate the spread.

“We’re going to continue working closely with experts and ensuring we contact our schools and families, any staff members impacted and move forward to keep our doors open as long and as safely as possible.”

In other business, board members:

  • Took no action following a closed session that board President Gary Rowe said included discussion on school resource officers. The Rock Island Police Department announced in mid-July that it would not fill the two school resource officer positions in the district because of a shortage of officers. Other closed session matters included employee matters and collective bargaining negotiations.
  • Heard a curriculum equity report from Assistant Superintendent Kathy Ruggeberg, who reviewed the district’s curriculum selection process and the district’s efforts to provide digital and funding equity. Ruggeberg said the district’s next steps included creating an equity statement or policy, a policy and procedure review, and continued implementation of the cultural quotient plan.
  • Heard a positive 2019-2020 audit report from a representative from Bohnsack Frommelt.
  • Accepted the non-certified termination of an unnamed employee.

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