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Kratzer expansion needed


Special to The Press

Steadily increasing enrollments at the Kratzer Elementary School and the prospect of the Ridge Farm housing development of 870 housing units along Huckleberry Ridge, have led Parkland School District officials to plan a new fourth- and fifth-grade wing.

The 17,000-square-foot addition would enable one extra classroom per grade level overall and a new library media center with a designated space for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

The existing library would be converted into two classrooms, probably for special education.

Total estimated cost of the project is $11,905,052, a $1.2 million increase since the schematic design was developed in March.

Rob Avitabile, senior project manager for Alvin H. Butz, Inc., noted the construction cost, construction contingency, and soft costs are all higher now than they were earlier this year.

He also included a 4-percent COVID-19 contingency of $334,660 for “stuff we don’t know yet, mainly materials.”

Board member David Kennedy commented.

“We’re building this primarily for Ridge Farm,” Kennedy said.

A portion of that development will be for residents 55 and older.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rod Troutman said Ridge Farm is not the only reason for the Kratzer expansion.

He said Kratzer has been growing for a few years as long time residents are moving out and young families with children are moving in.

Troutman stated it is hard to project how many students will come from Ridge Farm.

“The numbers are fuzzy at best,” Troutman said. “They could run into so many issues.”

The figure he has now is 120 students entering kindergarten through grade 12 over a three- to four-year span, starting in 2026.

Troutman reported 489 children were enrolled at Kratzer at the start of the 2021-22 term, 12 more than anticipated by district projections.

“We’re growing into the early 500s,” Troutman said. “Ridge Farm could put us in higher 500s.”

When the expansion is completed, the capacity at Kratzer would be about 625 students.

The new addition will include a courtyard with turf, benches for teachers and students, and animal footprints on the concrete walkways.

A two-story window will bring light into the STEM space where the floors will not be carpeted for easier cleanup.

The time line specifies bids will be due Jan. 26, 2022, with board approval expected in March 2022.

Construction start is scheduled for April 4, 2022, with final completion 16 months later on Aug. 4, 2023.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Madson said the district needs the Kratzer enlargement.

”Not only for moving forward, but we need it now,” Madson said.