Bid approved for CG school project

Bids for the Cerro Gordo High School building project came in about 10 percent higher than expected, but the use of an alternate bid system allowed the school board to select a contractor and stay within the $8 million budget that voters approved last April.

School board members on Feb. 28 accepted a total bid from Plocher Construction of Highland for $7,697,600 to perform the work, which includes a 14,000-square-foot building that will connect the current 1929 high school with the separate 1960s band and gym building.

The connector will include the junior/senior campus’ main secured entryway, library, high school STEAM labs and a secondary gym. Remodeling of the high school will include conversion of the old gymnasium into an auditorium and the current library into a pair of classrooms.

BLDD Architect Mark Ritz said there were six bidders for the project, with four of them being under $8 million. The high bid was $8,780,000 from Evans Construction.

“The low three bidders were extremely tight. In fact, the low two bidders were only $6,000 apart, so that tells you that you got the best price for the work that will be done,” said Ritz.

The district also asked for bids on 14 additional items that could or could not be included in the contractor’s bid. Three of those were accepted as part of Plocher’s proposal, those being a resurface of the southeast parking lot, expanding the east side parking lot and using concrete instead of asphalt at the parking lot entries.

Alternate bids that are not part of the contract at this time include the demolition of the junior high school wing, using terrazzo flooring, kitchen equipment, and sound systems for both the remodeled auditorium and for the new gym.

Alternates currently left out of the project could still be done. The school board has discussed the possibility of using school facilities sales tax to perform other work.

“We have not yet determined if anything else will be added to the accepted base bid and alternates, though that is still a possibility,” said Cerro Gordo School Superintendent Brett Robinson.

If no alternates were taken, the low bid would have been Grunloh Construction at $7,588.000. But their prices on the added work pushed them just higher than Plocher.

“It’s a complicated project in the fact that you’re building an entry here that adds to the complexity. I think that had a lot to do with the bids being higher,” added Ritz.

Bids were also submitted were Christy Foltz, Leander Construction and Korte & Luitjohan.

Groundbreaking for the project could be held as early as this spring with the possibility of construction starting before students complete the 2017-18 school year. The goal is to have it ready for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

“The general contractor, architects and the school district will work together on a timeline and the logistics of having school while this construction project is in progress,” added Robinson.

Rob Albers will serve as the district owner’s project representative, a role he has undertaken at other school districts including Meridian.

The Feb. 28 meeting was a split-shift session. The board met at 8 a.m. to approve a restructuring of existing bonds in order to establish a debt extension base in the case statewide tax caps are implemented. After that three-step process was approved, the board adjourned until 7 p.m. that evening, when the building bid was approved.

Many area school districts have purchased bonds in the past two years in order to have additional bonding authority, with most paying back the bonds within a year. Talk of tax caps has quieted, but Robinson still felt repeating that process this year would be prudent.

“The unpredictability we’ve seen in the political climate is pushing me to say I think we’d better be safe, and that’s why I asked (financial consultant) Tim (King) to put this together for us,” added Robinson.

It gives the district $374,000 in bonding authority in addition to adding that amount of funds to the district’s working cash fund. Without it, the district would only be able to levy around $12,755 for work that could include mandated life safety projects.

Co-op talk
Also at the evening session, the board instructed Robinson to form Cerro Gordo’s half of a committee that will generate suggestions concerning the next cooperative agreement with neighboring Bement. The committee will include two school board members, an administrator, two coaches and two students from each school district.

The co-op agreement technically expires this August, but Robinson said the committee will need to work quickly in order for changes to be approved by the school conference when it meets April 18 for the final time of the school year.


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