Jan. 28, 2009
Duluth school district reworks construction
By Sarah Horner
Construction on the long-range facilities plan
has been bumped up and pushed back, depending on the project.
The Duluth school district released a new construction
schedule this week that details the latest start and wrap dates
for all projects in the long-range facilities plan. Work on several
of the schools has been moved up, which in turn has pushed other
The changes are largely due to earlier than expected
progress on the design phase of certain schools, said Duluth Superintendent
Keith Dixon. Construction at Denfeld High School, for example, originally
was supposed to begin in 2010, but the new schedule shows work starting
at the school this spring.
“Our schematic designs have just been moving
along really nicely for that school, and the project is getting
pretty well ready to go,” Dixon said. He added that the district
was keen to bid a project of that size sooner rather than later
because of the potentially competitive bidding climate created by
the economic downturn.
The Homecroft Elementary, Laura MacArthur Elementary
and Lester Park/Rockridge Elementary projects also have been moved
up, in some cases by as much as a year.
The consequence of pulling some projects up meant
the district had to push others back to balance the workload for
local contractors, said Kevin Strong, program manager for Johnson
“If we can sequence all the various phases
of this work out, we’ll be better able to achieve maximum
local contractor participation,” Strong said.
Don O’Connor, executive director of the
Duluth Builder’s Exchange, said that gesture probably would
be appreciated by the local construction industry.
“When you double the amount of work in an
area, it’s quite an impact on the construction industry, so
certainly spreading it out is a good way to go,” he said.
Work has been pushed back more than a year on
Grant/Nettleton Elementary and Lowell/Piedmont Elementary and a
few months off for the eastern high school and both the western
and eastern middle schools.
It is still unclear what the changes will mean
for students, Dixon said. The district is waiting to settle on a
boundary before deciding where to move students during construction
at each site. The new schedule, however, should limit the number
of moves to three as opposed to four in the first schedule.
The recent announcement of the potential early
closings of Ordean Middle School and Piedmont Elementary was a budget
savings decision and has nothing to do with the new construction