OGDEN — With construction ongoing to upgrade Wasatch Elementary and groundbreaking on the new Horace Mann Elementary structure less than a month in the past, Polk Elementary is the next Ogden school project on the drawing board.
The varied projects are distinct, and a representative from Big-D Construction and Kitchell, or BDK, the firm aiding the Ogden School District in development of the varied plans, says the looming Polk project will pose different challenges. Given the renovations to the original Polk structure that are part of the plans, the Polk rebuild will be “much more complex than the other two,” said Chris Kartchner, a BDK rep.
He offered an update to the Ogden School Board on the varied projects earlier this month and said the current timeline calls for construction at Polk to start this coming summer and to be done by the summer of 2022. The Wasatch, Horace Mann and Polk projects, as well as the rebuild of T.O. Smith Elementary, which comes later, were outlined in an $87 million bond package Ogden voters approved in 2018.
The design for the upgrade of Polk is to be complete by March with bids sought for work in April and construction beginning in June, according to a project update presented to school officials on Feb. 6. Plans call for retention of the shells of the original portion of the school, completed in 1926 or 1927, as well as a 1993 addition, with demolition of the rest of the school and its replacement with “a 21st Century learning environment.”
The most recent conceptual rendering of the new-and-improved Polk shows the original structure to the north, a glassy entry atrium south of that and a new large gray addition to the south, replacing the wing there now. A student drop-off drive winds in front of the old part of the school. The site plan, though, has not yet been finalized, Jer Bates, the school district spokesman, told the Standard-Examiner.
The budgeted construction cost for Polk was originally put at $30 million, but the current construction estimate is $31.9 million with another $5.25 million in expected “soft costs,” or a total of $37.15 million.
“Staying within budget will be very difficult due to existing space renovation and repair. Further investigation of the existing structure of the old school has indicated more will need to be repaired/replaced or more structure required,” reads BDK’s latest report on the project. Any funding needed above and beyond bond revenue “could come from other sources such as annual capital budget funds or lease revenue bonds, which do not require voter approval,” Bates said.
During the debate surrounding the $87 million bond preceding the vote on the matter, officials said the project upgrades were needed, in part, to make the schools more resistant to earthquakes, should one occur. The oldest portion of the Polk structure, though, to be saved and incorporated into the upgraded building per the wishes of neighbors around the school, wouldn’t necessarily withstand a strong temblor, if one were to occur.
Kartchner told the school board on Feb. 6 that the old original section will be reinforced to allow the safe exit of those inside in the event of a devastating earthquake. “And then at that point, that portion of the structure would need to be replaced,” he said.
Still, the building would be “much safer” than it is currently.
Fourteen trees are to be cut down from the Polk campus while 70 more are to be planted, according to minutes of the Aug. 1, 2019, school board meeting. “Bus pickup and drop-off area will be on the property rather than on the street,” they read.
Per the grand school district vision, Taylor Canyon Elementary is to close when the Polk upgrade is complete. At least some of the students in the current Taylor Canyon boundaries would likely attend Polk, though new school boundaries have yet to be determined.
The upgrade to Wasatch Elementary started last September and is to be done by July.
Groundbreaking on the new Horace Mann school structure, adjacent to the existing school, took place on Feb. 7. Construction is to be complete by July 2021.
Construction on the new T.O. Smith building is to start this coming summer or fall and be done by mid-2022, according to the latest BDK timeline.