Quincy School Board views rehab progress on district-owned High Street house

Quincy School Board member Scott Stone, center, talks Monday while touring the district-owned house on High Street with other board members. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Jun. 25, 2013 10:08 am Updated: Jul. 9, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Five members of the Quincy School Board got a firsthand look Monday at the progress being made in renovating the district-owned house at 2424 High St.

Between January and May, students from the Quincy Area Vocational-Technical Center's building trades classes started rehabbing the house from top to bottom. They tore out old plaster, drywall and framing, and then started reframing rooms, then adding insulation, wiring, piping and other basic features. They will resume their work once classes start up again in August.

After the renovations are complete, the district will sell the house and use the proceeds to buy another dilapidated home that can be fixed up, marketed and sold as part of an educational experience for students.

School officials initially hoped the project could be completed by summer 2014. But Dave Bellis, a local builder who teaches construction classes at the vocational-technical center, expressed some reservations Monday about that timetable.

"I have no idea how long this is going to take," he said. "I'd love to get it done next year, but I don't know."

Bellis on Monday led a tour through the house for School Board members Jeff Mays, Scott Stone, Stephanie Erwin, Melvin "Bud" Niekamp and Sayeed Ali. Some board members hadn't seen the building since vo-tech students started their renovation work.

"It's wonderful. I love it," said Erwin, the board's president.

Bellis said that once the rehab work is completed, the house will feature three bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a living room, kitchen, unfinished basement and garage.

Mark Pfleiger, director of the vocational-technical center, said the rehab project will pump about $20,000 of improvements into the structure.

"It's going to be a very marketable house when we're done," Pfleiger said.

The Quincy School District has owned the house since 1970. At that time, the district converted the house into a skills-training center for students with disabilities. The district has since moved the special ed training program to another location.

The School Board tried to sell the house at an auction last June 30. However, the high bid of $16,000 failed to meet the undisclosed minimum selling price established by the board. Stone and Mays subsequently approached vo-tech center officials with the idea of using the house as a training site for students in the construction program. The full School Board signed off on the plan in December.

Pfleiger said the project will provide some real-world renovation experience for about 50 students in the center's construction classes and about 100 students in other classes. For instance, students in a computer-aided design class developed a set of house plans used by the renovation teams. Meanwhile, students in a business and marketing class will participate in financial and marketing aspects of the project, while graphics design students will produce marketing and advertising materials.

All the renovation work is being done under the supervision of Bellis, who has done many rehab projects during his construction career.

"He is a stickler for quality for the kids," Pfleiger said. "If it isn't done right the first time, he'll make them tear it out and do it again."

"That's how it's going to be in the real world," noted Stone, who also works in the housing construction industry.

Pfleiger said Bellis "brings the perspective of a contractor -- somebody who's got to make money -- so he really emphasizes that with the kids, and that's exactly what they need to hear."