O-A-K answers $5.4M White Pigeon schools plan


O-A-K breaks ground on its five-year construction project for White Pigeon Community Schools. Courtesy O-A-K

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., a Grand Rapids-based construction management firm, will begin a five-year renovation and improvement project for White Pigeon Community Schools this summer.

The school district is investing nearly $5.4 million through 2017 into the upgrades and improvements to its Central Elementary School and its middle school and high school, which are in a single building.

Work is set to begin on the elementary school, a K-6 school with 385 students, this summer.

Work on the elementary school is expected to be completed in August.

O-A-K will make various improvements to Central Elementary: the parent-drop-off sites, bus-loading loop, parking areas, driveways, electrical, plumping, bathrooms, science lab and other portions of the facilitiy.

Then the project shifts next year, for the next four years, to the middle and high school building, which serves 439 students.  

View White Pigeon schools construction in a larger map

Voter approval

The funding for the project comes from the district’s voters approving a renewal of a 3-mill sinking fund last December that will provide the school system with roughly $1 million per year for the five-year construction plan.

TowerPinkster is designing the project.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with the district and the White Pigeon community over the next five years,” said O-A-K president Frank Stanek, whose specialty is school construction.

“The district is moving in a very positive direction. We are excited to make our schools more useful, more functional and more conducive to student learning,” added White Pigeon Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki.

Compressed timeline

O-A-K has submitted a second construction schedule: one that will merge the work planned for 2014 through 2017 into a two-year timetable.

Compressing the schedule in that manner is expected to save the school district $186,000 in construction costs.

“A second benefit to an adjusted timeline is less disruption to the operations of the district. Two summers of construction instead of four reduces the time our schools and grounds will be unavailable. That will make it much easier on the school staff,” said Drzewicki.

“However, the proposal will require the district to borrow twice for one-year periods, costing the district approximately $30,000 in interest. The net savings are estimated to be $156,000 that will be rolled back into the project,” he added.

The White Pigeon Board of Education will meet on June 5 to decide which construction schedule to follow.

“We want to remain transparent to maintain the trust of the voters,” said Drzewicki. “If approved, the timeline will be adjusted, but the detailed list of projects will not change.”

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