The first bid has been approved for the Monticello school district’s $33.2 million building project. The school board approved $225,000 in asbestos abatement bids on March 14, a precursor to new construction at the high school/Washington Elementary campus that will begin this fall.

But first, asbestos must be removed from the 1894 Old Washington building, which will be demolished this summer to make way for an elementary classroom addition and new gymnasium. Also included will be asbestos abatement in the pit gym, which will be renovated into two high school classrooms; and the high school auditorium, which will be renovated as part of the project.

There are more – and larger – bids to come, but Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said it will be nice to move from planning to implementation stages.

“I told the board at the meeting that it will be nice on May 6 to see some construction action,” he stated.

The asbestos removal will be done by DEM Services of Addison, which submitted the lowest of nine bids that went up to $315,281. The base bid is $183,000, with an additional $42,000 needed if tests of chalkboard glue pads in Washington show there is asbestos present.

The auditorium and pit gym work can be started before the end of the school year because those areas and not used on a daily basis.

“Asbestos material will only be removed when there are no kids in school,” added Zimmerman.

Asbestos is present in the floor tile of the auditorium, and in a vapor barrier located between the wood floor and concrete base in the pit gym.

Material will be removed from Old Washington starting June 17. The structure is slated for demolition between July 8 and Aug. 2. That will enable new construction to commence and be completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Two additional bids are to be received by the school board over the next six weeks. Bids for the precast wall portions of the gym and elementary school addition will be considered at a March 27 school board meeting, and the remainder of the work that also includes significant renovation at the high school will be opened April 11 and then considered by the school board, likely at a special meeting later that mont