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Bids being sought for renovations at three elementaries

January 26, 2005 - By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

The Mehlville School District planned to seek bids this week for renovations at three elementary schools, but district officials are aware that the cost of the projects could be more than anticipated last fall.

Bids are due Feb. 15 for renovations at Forder Elementary, Hagemann Elementary and Rogers Elementary. Along with the district's new early childhood center that is under construction, the elementary school renovations are the last projects — with the exception of roofing work — that will be done as part of the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program.

Voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate in-crease. However, the Board of Education voted in November to approve a revised Proposition P budget of $88,927,440.

The revised Proposition P budget represents a roughly 30 percent increase — more than $20.5 million — over the $68.4 million building improvement program envisioned in 2000.

Dwight Dickinson of Dickinson Huss-man Architects and Tom Buelter of the Northstar Management Co., the district's owner/agent for the remaining Proposition P projects, updated school board members last week about the current status of Prop-osition P work.

"... The Forder/Hagemann/Rogers project is going to be going out for bid Tuesday (Jan. 25) and I believe the bids are due Feb. 15 so that we can bring that contract hopefully to the board for approval at the end of February,'' Dickinson said. "So that's moving forward. Shortly after that, we're going to be going out with the 2005 summer roof replacement bids and hopefully we will have that for the board to review during the March board meeting ...''

Work proposed for Forder, Hagemann and Rogers includes security locking, information technology "raceways,'' cooling units for data closets and electrical work for the cooling units. Site-specific improvements also are planned, but when cost estimates were provided to the board in October, it was noted that the scope of work at each building had been reduced. Cost estimates presented in October were:

• Forder — $168,000. Site-specific work includes tuckpointing areas of an exterior brick wall and adding acoustical panels in the commons area. The estimated cost of the work in September 2003 was $186,995.

• Hagemann — $207,000. Site-specific work includes repairing cracks in the gymnasium wall, adding sound insulation to the music room and providing handrails on exterior stairs. The estimated cost of the work in September 2003 was $432,275.

• Rogers — $81,000. Expansion of the bus-stacking area originally had been proposed, but this problem was resolved through elementary redistricting. The estimated cost of the work in September 2003 was $219,951.

Cost projections for the work at the three schools have been revised based on more detailed estimates by Northstar, according to information provided to the Board of Education. The current projections are:

• Forder — $304,153.

• Hagemann — $271,953.

• Rogers — $67,698.

Board member Bill Schornheuser asked about the projected cost of the work at Forder and Hagemann increasing, saying, "We anticipate that those bids are going to come in a little bit higher than we originally projected?''

Assistant Superintendent for Finance Randy Charles said, "We are. Dwight (Dick-inson) can probably speak to the reasons for that, but one of the things that we did this time, and again it's our new affiliation with Northstar, we asked them to and they agreed to take the time to do a very detailed estimate independent of the estimate that was done by DHA. I believe, and I don't want to take their thunder, I believe that Northstar has made some conservative assumptions different than the assump-tions maybe that DHA has made, but based upon what we've heard today, I think the design team would tell you to expect that the bids may come in a little higher than we thought when we last asked or brought a revised budget to you. So that is a possibility and we have included that in the last monthly report ...''

Schornheuser said, "And again, we haven't added anything to those projects again, just more detailed estimates.''

Charles said, "Right. That's correct. That's the best estimates, best projected costs, based on the most recent information.''

Dickinson said, "Bill, some of that issue has to do with material costs. A lot of this work is electrical and the copper material, as in all material right now in construction work is just going through the roof since, really since I guess last August or Septem-ber. Some of it, some of the material has been diverted and (is) going south to where the hurricane had hit, and that al-ways, any time you get something like that, there's always a spike in the cost of materials, so hopefully we will get some good competition on these projects.

"I think it's a kind of project that the bid size, the smaller contractors will be interested in and I think we're going out really at the right time, too. We want to get out a little bit ahead of what some of the other bids from other school districts are going to be putting out, so that we can tie these numbers down as quickly as we can. So hopefully that will help us also,'' he added.

Noting that bids also would be sought for the summer roof replacement program, Schornheuser asked Dickinson if he was confident the projected cost of that work would remain firm.

Based on discussions with the district's roofing consultant, Dickinson said the estimated cost was based on very conservative numbers. However, he noted, "... Apparent-ly, the Chinese are taking all our material because now the roofing costs are starting to spike high, too, because along with the steel, they're sending roofing materials over to China and that I guess there is a possibility that we could see some in-crease in material costs on that.

"One of the things that we're talking about doing in order to protect ourselves as much as possible is possibly pre-ordering the insulation material ahead of time, even before we get the bids in on the roof and we're still talking to the district about it,'' he continued. "There's a possibility we could take delivery early and then put it, store it some place where it's safe until we need it this summer. But it will help protect us on some of the cost increases as far as insulation is concerned.''

Noting the current shortage of raw materials for construction, board President Cindy Christopher asked Dickinson, "... Would it be at all in our best interest to wait a bit to take these out to bid until some of that is kind of settled? ... I don't know what the thought would be on that, if that would be a viable alternative.''

Dickinson said, "The only problem I see with that, Cindy, is if we wait too long then we're going to be in competition with a lot of other school work that's going to be coming out on the market very shortly. I know there's some neighboring school districts that ...''

Christopher interjected, "Except none of these projects are very big.''

Dickinson said, "Pardon me?''

Christopher said, "I think none of these projects are very big.''

Dickinson said, "No, no. They're really not. I guess, again, I think this is going to be attractive to bid in smaller contractors and I think there's a lot of them out that hopefully are going to be hungry enough and the board always has, obviously, the discretion to not accept these bids ...''

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