Construction has started on the Urbana City School District’s new elementary school building located on U.S. 68 just south of town. The official groundbreaking will be Sunday. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Urbana saves $1.5 million on new elementary due to low contractor bids

For instance, Thiel said the school budgeted about $1.4 million for roofing. The bids came in at almost $200,000 lower. The school expects to save over $100,000 on cabinets and its installations, and thousands of dollars on flooring and fire protection technology.

“The majority of them bid low,” Thiel said. “We feel like we got an advantage because we have the high school project going on. Our team feels like our contractors felt they could be aggressive because they only have to move a mile and half to the other site.”

The money will likely be reinvested into the school, Thiel said. The building is scheduled to be open during the 2019 - 2020 school year.

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“We are able to add in some items like LED lights throughout the building, movable walls, additions to the parking lots,” he said.

Work has begun at the new site, which is off U.S. 68 between Vintage Drive-Thru and Campground Road, down the street from the Champaign County offices. The district will host a ground breaking ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday to celebrate work beginning. Because the chances of rain are high, the district will host the celebration inside the high school’s gymnasium.

The property on U.S. 68 is the district’s second choice for the new school.

The district initially planned to build the new primary school near the Champaign Family YMCA on Community Drive, land it bought more than 10 years ago for the project. However the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency informed district leaders that the proposed site could be too close to an old city landfill and questioned if methane gas or other contamination could reach the site.

PREVIOUSLY: Urbana district closing in on new school site

The issues stopped the project from moving forward for months. The Urbana district paid $925,000 for the 70 acres off of U.S. 68 and the total cost of the school was projected to be about $35 million.

City councilman and local business owner Patrick Thackery said he is excited to see work getting started off of U.S. 68.

“I am glad that the school is being built,” Thackery said. “I think it is good for the community.”

He said the new school will give good opportunities for the student.

“It’s a very positive thing for the community,” he said.

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High school construction

While the district celebrates the beginning of construction for the elementary school, the high school construction began in the fall and continues to show good progress, Thiel said.

“We have been very happy with the high school contractors,” Thiel said.

The crews have started to pour concrete for the foundation of the academic wings. The school is going to save “the castle”, the iconic entrance of the high school that resembles a castle from the street.

“It’s progressing really well,” Thiel said. “They will start putting in stud walls to divide the classroom space soon.”

He said the project is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule and anticipates the school will continue to stay on track. The school is expected to open after the students return from spring break in 2018.