Mascoutah moves forward with elementary school plans

News-DemocratSeptember 1, 2013 

Mascoutah School District 19 is solidifying plans for its new elementary school in Shiloh.

The school board recently approved constructing a two-story, 68,000-square-foot building at a cost of approximately $25 million. Construction of the new school on Wingate Boulevard in the Villages of Wingate subdivision is expected to begin this spring.

"It's absolutely going to be an asset to the residents of Shiloh who live on that end of town in the Mascoutah School District," Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said. "It's a great thing for Shiloh. It's a great thing for kids."

Mascoutah District 19 Superintendent Craig Fiegel said originally, the district considered constructing a 35,000-square-foot, two-section school building with two classrooms for each grade when the project was first discussed in 2007. Now six years later, he said it's clear a larger school building will be needed.

The district's two elementary schools -- Mascoutah Elementary School and Scott Elementary School -- are overcrowded. Fiegel said the new elementary school, which has yet to be named, will bring the enrollments at Mascoutah and Scott elementary back down to "much more manageable" numbers. Both schools currently have more than 900 students. Voters approved a referendum to construct a new elementary school in April.

Keith Poettker of Poettker Construction, the construction manager for the project, presented a variety of options for the new elementary school to the school board at its Aug. 20 meeting.

The board selected the 67,922-square-foot building option, which would provide more than 63,000 square feet of finished space and 4,600 square feet of shelled space on the second floor. The interior of the second floor would be finished during phase two of the project. Construction of phase one is expected to begin in March with a 15-month time frame.

The new building would be a three-section school configuration with three classrooms for each grade, according to Fiegel, with a capacity of 450 to 500 students. "A three-section school will have the capacity we need and room for a little growth," he said.

Fiegel estimates enrollment will be at least 350 when the school first opens in August 2015.

Amenities at the new school will include a media center, music and art rooms, cafeteria, multipurpose room, administrative and support facilities. The site will feature separate bus and parent access, 75 parking spaces, playgrounds and play fields.

It's estimated the second phase of construction at the new school would begin in 2019, depending on enrollment, with a projected cost of $12.3 million. Phase two would include an addition of a main gym and a third classroom wing, completion of the second floor shelled space and a parking lot and playground extension. Once phase two is complete, Fiegel said the school could accommodate up to 850 students.

To cover construction costs for the new school, the school board approved purchasing alternate revenue bonds. The first bond issue for just under $10 million will occur in November. In all, Fiegel said the district could issue up to $30 million in general obligation alternate revenue bonds to build the school. As collateral for the bonds, the school district will pledge its reserves and projected general state aid toward repayment in the event of default.

Under a revised tax increment financing agreement with the village of Shiloh, Fiegel said all construction expenses will be paid for and reimbursed by the village. "We will collect the TIF money and then pay off the bond payments," he said.

Before any construction can begin, mine remediation must be done at the site. School board members approved SCI Engineering, Inc. completing undermining exploration at a cost of $59,300.

Bore samples are currently being collected on the site. A series of eight test drilling holes, used in conjunction with maps that show the location of mining, will determine the extent of mine remediation efforts. The mine site is about 138 feet below the surface. It was in operation from 1904 to 1948.

Once engineering analysis is completed, the voids and previously mined chambers will be filled with grout to stabilize the school building site. Fiegel said the district will bid out the mine remediation portion of the project once SCI Engineering completes its study of the site. He expects mine remediation work to begin in October or November.

District 19 encompasses 104-square miles including the city of Mascoutah, all of Scott Air Force Base and parts of the city of Belleville and the villages of Shiloh and New Baden.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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