Chandler elementary school to be 'reimagined,' rebuilt


One of the Chandler Unified School District’s oldest campuses is in need of a remodel to make it more useful in the years ahead.

Rather than purchase land for a new school, the district is taking advantage of available land around the campus to create a new school in the grassy fields around Galveston Elementary, then remove the old campus buildings later and flip the configuration, so as not to displace any students during construction.

At its December meeting, the CUSD Governing Board approved a contract addendum with Orcutt Winslow that will pay the firm almost $1.3 million for helping “re-imagine” the Galveston campus.

A series of forums, involving teachers, other campus educators and parents, is being held in the weeks ahead in order to compose a list of attributes a new campus should have.

Galveston is one of eight CUSD elementary schools that were identified last year as losing enrollment as the northern half of Chandler becomes less affordable to live in and seniors replace parents of elementary-age children. In one meeting, the district said Galveston enrollment was only at about 42% of capacity.

Tom Dunn, the district’s executive director for support services, told the board the re-imagining is most likely going to help make Galveston look unlike any other school in the district.

“It’s certainly a process we intend to repeat,” Dunn said. “Going forward, Galveston will be the process template for using community input to dictate what a facility should look like, how it should function.”

The rebuild is projected to cost around $23 million and is intended to be completed in time for the start of the 2024-25 school year. The funds are coming from a 2019 voter-approved bond.

Galveston Elementary opened in 1963 and occupies the western half of a rectangular 13.4-acre parcel in an older residential neighborhood along Galveston Street, west of McQueen Road and northeast of downtown.

One goal is to provide a replacement school of about 67,500 square feet with a capacity for 750 students.

“First, we want to get input on the needs of the community and its students, and eventually use needs and what makes sense to create concepts, and then determine in what ways that will be possible,” Dunn said. “The process will give us the end product.”

Schematic design, through bid assistance, is what Orcutt Winslow lists as the bulk of the cost associated with the contract. On Jan. 23, Dunn said a request for quote for the main construction is “already out on the street,” with the bidding process expected to be completed in mid- to late February.

As always, Dunn said, the district tries to lock in fixed costs of supplies and labor on major projects as early as possible. He said there still seem to be some supply-chain issues with construction materials available in the Valley, but that situation is gradually becoming more predictable.

Regarding costs and change orders, Dunn said, the contract for construction will include a guaranteed maximum price.

He also said the district is in constant communication with contractors about construction supplies often used to build or remodel schools.

“Even with inflation changing so quickly, vendors are pretty good about giving fair warning, and letting everyone know to get in before certain price-change dates,” he said.

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