The Moline-Coal Valley School District is making strides in completing a $17.3 million expansion project at Hamilton Elementary School.

School board members gave the district the OK on Monday to hire Legat Architects of Moline and Russell Construction of Davenport to lead the project.

Legat will be paid 7.375 percent of the total cost of the project, which comes to more than $1.275 million. It also will receive a design allowance of $150,000.

Russell Construction will serve as construction manager during the pre-construction phase and will be paid $531,783.

The company will later receive a contract for construction, which is estimated at more than $15.3 million.

Additionally, the board approved a contract of up to $10,400 to McClure Engineering of East Moline to conduct a traffic impact and pedestrian route study.

Superintendent David Moyer said the district wants to break ground on the project by May. The school is scheduled to open by the 2015-2016 school year.

The district plans to issue bonds for the project in July.

The project is part of the district’s three-year operational plan, which aims to raise the board and close the achievement gap for students across the district.

In late May, the school board voted to close Ericsson and Garfield elementary schools and expand Hamilton. The closing of the schools will save the district $350,000 annually.

The new Hamilton school will house about 600 students with an average class size of 25 students.

District officials say the operational plan will help balance class sizes and eliminate split classes, create higher levels of teacher collaboration and provide better support services.

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The district wants to sell Garfield and turn Ericsson into a community center.

Various committees composed of district staff, community members, local officials and architects and construction mangers have formed to provide feedback at all levels of the process. 

Specifically, the committees are looking at design and construction, transition, the repurposing of Ericsson, boundaries, transportation and safety, and programming and staffing.

Committees members will give periodic updates to the school board. Moyer said he also will give the board updates on the implementation of the operational plan.

The district also plans to post periodic updates on its website, www.molineschools.org, Moyer said.

Also Monday, the board got an update of the projected budget for the 2013-2014 school year. District officials are anticipating a $1.2 million deficit in the education fund.

The board will hold a public forum and will vote on the budget at its July 22 meeting.