$12M Central Lee upgrade moving along as scheduled

Central Lee Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier looks in through the future doors between new construction and the current elementary school. Construction is fully underway on the $12.9 million facilities upgrade and should be completed by the beginning of the fall school year. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC


DONNELLSON – The term ‘new and improved’ really can apply to the $12.9 million facilities upgrade at Central Lee Community School District in Donnellson.

Contractors and subcontractors are crawling all over the skeleton of the gymnasium, fine arts arena, and other elementary and high school improvements on the campus in Donnellson.

Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier said the work is coming along according to schedule and budget.

“We’re sitting pretty good regarding our contingency budget, but we haven’t done any of the demo work inside so that may be where we see a lot of the change orders come in,” Crozier said.

The new gymnasium will seat 1,400 and the courts will run north and south with very high ceilings.

“This is pretty good size gym with good height for volleyball and that kind of thing,” he said.

The gym is still open on the sides, but Crozier said he’s hoping they get the walls wrapped shortly so the ground doesn’t freeze where concrete will be poured for the flooring.

If the ground freezes, the cost of bringing in equipment to warm it back up will be expensive, he said.

Along the north side of the gym will be a large common area that opens into a concession and cafeteria to the east. There are also two large glass garage doors planned on the north side of the commons area that open into a court yard. Additional glass between the two areas will create a more open feel.

Central Lee Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier walks through the district’s future high school locker room and athletic office area Monday afternoon in Donnellson. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Crozier said the courtyard was a good idea that proved to be a cost-savings measure as well.

“The main reason we left it open was code restrictions,” Crozier said. “If we we had this up against the building we had to be 18 inches below the roof line so our height of our common areas would have only been 8 foot, not to mention it would have been extremely expensive to build a two-hour fire wall there as well. So we like this idea better.”

Common space just north of the gym will feature furniture and trophy case with a door that connects to the library.

The former entrance to the high school is being recaptured and will be converted into one large open space that will flow easily into the common area and the gymnasium.

South of the gym will be a brand new locker room area with coaching offices and a large handicap accessible hallway.

The construction also features a three-story fine arts arena. That space also has high ceilings and will be able to be a venue for small musical programs and events.

New secure entrances, office space and nursing areas are located on the southwest corner of the elementary school. Additional new masonry runs north from there to the former entry way. Crozier said that current office space will be torn out and opened up for preschool classes.

All the exterior walls in the current school will stay but many interior walls will come out and all the flooring will be replaced to give the expanded building a cohesive look.

Estes Construction is managing the project, but Crozier said many local contractors are involved in the work including SG Construction out of Burlington, the firm that one six of the construction package bids.

Peters Heating and Cooling has all the HVAC work and JM Electric out of West Point is doing the electrical work. Jones Contracting of West Point did a lot of the parking lot work.

He said the only vendor that is out of the area is doing the gym floor because no one in the area does that type of work.

Crozier said right now the project is more like a $12 million project than the $12.9 million that was approved on the district’s second attempt. But he said he’s glad the first one failed.

“I’m really glad it failed the first time,” he said. “We got a better design the second time, and between interest rates and bids we did a lot better financially.”

The construction is set to be complete by the start of the fall 2021 school year.

A construction worker puts a weld on some steel framing in the future common area at the Central Lee Elementary School Monday afternoon. Construction on the district’s $12.9 million facilities upgrade is in full swing just southeast of Donnellson. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

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