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Rockwood Benefits from Efficient, Effective Management of Bond Issue Projects

 A Rockwood student smiles and holds a gift marking the opening of the Eureka STEM additionWith this past summer’s renovation of the Marquette High STEM wing, the special projects planned from the Rockwood School District’s 2017 bond issue are complete. The $95.5 million bond issue, which was approved by Rockwood voters, provided for roughly $75.1 million in special projects and $20.4 million in annual cycle maintenance needs.

On Thursday, members of the Eureka community got the opportunity to tour one of those special projects – the Eureka High STEM addition – at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The addition was completed in August 2020, but the grand opening ceremony was delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A Rockwood student performs a science experiment in the new Eureka High STEM additionAt the ribbon-cutting, Rockwood community members had the chance to experience firsthand the top-notch science, technology, engineering and mathematics facilities that Eureka High students and staff members have enjoyed for the past year.

"EHS is so excited to have such an amazing state-of-the-art STEM learning space for our students,” said Eureka High Principal Dr. Corey Sink. “We have some very talented budding scientists and engineers, and to have this new facility to go along with our outstanding teachers and staff will give them the space needed to learn, create, solve problems and grow. I want to personally thank the Eureka community and the Rockwood School District for supporting this project and our students. Go Wildcats!"

Because of the efficiency and effectiveness with which Rockwood Director of Facilities Chris Freund and his team managed special projects such as the Eureka High STEM addition, the district was also able to complete a number of additional improvements with bond issue funds.

A Rockwood student smiles with her project in one of the district's STEM Innovation RoomsThe planned special projects funded by the bond issue include:

  • The new Eureka Elementary facility
  • An addition and library renovation at Geggie Elementary
  • STEM enhancements at Eureka and Marquette high schools
  • STEM Innovation Rooms at all 19 Rockwood elementary schools
  • The Wildwood Middle B gym/tornado-safe storm shelter

Rockwood Facilities’ stellar management of the planned special projects also allowed the district to take on the following additional projects with bond issue funds:

  • Main and B gym bleacher replacements at all four high schools (Rockwood Summit and Marquette’s B gym bleachers are scheduled to be completed next summer)
  • Tennis court renovations at all four high schools (Eureka and Marquette’s projects are slated to be completed this fall, Lafayette’s next summer)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant lift replacements at Woerther Elementary and the Vandover Early Childhood Center
  • Transportation lot construction in Eureka
  • Rockwood Summit wellness area renovation and expansion 

“I’m really proud of our department for being able to execute these projects in the manner we have,” Freund said. “The new elementary school is a state-of-the-art facility, and the STEM initiative has touched all four of our high schools and our elementary schools. We know the impact that STEM programs have on our students and their futures. To see these facilities go to what they are today and be a part of that, it’s pretty amazing.”

The main gym at Marquette HighFreund said that his department is able to ensure exemplary efficiency and effectiveness in its operations through two main methods:

Rockwood manages its own projects: While most districts of Rockwood’s size contract with an outside program manager for major construction projects, the Rockwood Facilities Department manages projects in house. Freund communicated that this delivery method saves a minimum of around 6 percent of the cost of each project. Rockwood has been managing its own projects since 2013 and is a regional leader in this aspect. “We’ve been very successful at it,” Freund said. “I’ve had other districts reach out to me and inquire about how we do what we do. The district and taxpayers see that benefit because there’s a lot of funding that has been able to be reallocated somewhere else if we’re not engaging those services from an outside entity.”

Rockwood keeps change orders to a minimum: While the industry standard is to figure in a cost of about 10 percent of each project for change orders, Freund said Rockwood operates at a change order rate of less than 2 percent. Change orders reflect work that is added or removed from the original contracted scope of a project. Freund said Rockwood routinely collaborates with contractors and design teams who work with Rockwood to help keep change orders to a minimum.

Rockwood students work on an engineering project in a STEM Innovation Room

“I’m proud every time I walk into any of these facilities and see them full of students,” Freund said. “It should make everybody in the district very proud because there were a lot of people involved with advancing this effort from the very beginning on what we were trying to accomplish, and then when we got into the design phase at each location. The conversation has been going on for probably more than five years. It’s pretty awesome to see it all come to fruition.”





The front entrance to the new Eureka Elementary School An exterior view of the new Eureka High STEM building Two Rockwood students work on a robotics project in a district STEM Innovation Room An interior view of the Wildwood Middle Tornado Storm Shelter An interior view of the newly replaced bleachers in the B gym at Lafayette High A teacher and students work in a renovated STEM lab at Marquette High A view of the new tennis courts at Rockwood Summit High Three students work on a project in the Uthoff Valley STEM Innovation Room