By TIM ROWDEN
Lemay – When students, parents and teachers gathered recently for a ribbon cutting at the newly renovated Tiger Dome and other building improvements in the Hancock Place School District, it wasn’t just an occasion to celebrate new facilities built with taxpayer support, it was a chance to recognize the skilled union trades men and women who made it happen.
The $7.9 million in new construction on the campus in the 200 block of West Ripa Avenue included renovations inside the Dome, which is the commons area, cafeteria and gym shared by students from the high school and middle school, and a multi-purpose building and gym added to the middle school building.
The project was completed with a project labor agreement (PLA), which Hancock Place Superintendent Kevin Carl said ensured the project was completed on time, under budget and to the highest standards.
“We value the support of our local unions,” Carl said. “And this project was done with 100 percent union labor. For us, the value of the PLA is we got the project done on time and under budget.”
What’s more, Carl said, the money that was saved, allowed the district to add some additional value projects to its renovations including a new floor in the main gym, upgraded interior doors, exterior renovations and painting, new basketball goals in the main gym and the installation of a large oscillating fan in the gymnasium to help with energy efficiency.
“We were able to include another $200,000 work of improvements,” Carl said.
In addition, Hancock Place middle schoolers and wresting team are starting the year off with a new scoreboard as a gift from the St. Louis Electrical Connection, a partnership between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and IBEW Local 1.
PLAs are nothing new the district, Hancock Place School Board member and IBEW Local 1 electrician Kevin Johnson said.
“We’ve had PLAs since we started the high school nine years ago,” Johnson said. “This school board is a good union school board. They back unions. Every trade in the business, as far as I know, worked here.”
State Rep. Bob Burns (D-Affton) who was on hand for the ribbon cutting questioned why any school district or public entity wouldn’t use union labor.
“They have the training and professionalism,” Burns said. “And like Dr. Carl said, ‘They are on time and under budget.’ God bless our unions.”
State Sen. Scott Sifton (D-Affton), who was also at the ribbon cutting, said “It’s a great day for the community and it’s nice to see labor families in the community be a part of it.”