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After a long debate, Spring Valley elementary school board approved $134,222 in cuts to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning and electrical contractor bids for the school addition.
The board and engineers and architects from Allied Design Consultants, Inc. and HDR Engineering, Inc., Springfield on Tuesday discussed ways to cut bids from the estimated $14.5 million project which came in 3.8 percent over budget. “We’re hoping tonight to be able to come to an agreement,” said William VanDusen, architect.
The board members were concerned the project would drain funds they wanted to use to buy an air conditioning unit for the old school building. The current bids made the project about $15.5 million with an added 5-percent contingency cost. The total cost being almost $17.2 million. Currently, the school has more than $4 million of its own money and $920,000 in bond funds it can draw from to cover costs. The project also will receive about $12.2 million from the state. With air conditioning, the school would need an additional $1.4 million.
Superintendent Jim Hermes said this is a hard time to judge state funding, and he wanted to keep $2.7 million in the education fund and find other ways to pay for the project.
“The last thing I want to do is recommend anything that will hurt the children,” said Hermes.
Allied offered the board two options for making cuts. First, they could make $134,222 in recommended cuts to the project which would include material changes, using grooved piping instead of welded and eliminating touchless faucets. Frank Maras, engineer, said these changes would not hurt the efficiency of the school building. The total project cost would be $17.1 million and have $112,000 left over.
The second option would be all $639,839 in cuts provided by the contractors which would make the total cost $16.5 million with $643,000 left over, plus unused contingency money could be used in both cases.
“By taking all the possible deductions, the overall quality of the building would be reduced beyond the positives of the short-term savings,” said Ben Dockter, architect, about the second plan.
Dockter also said the state provided funding for the original project cost estimate of $16.3 million, and the board could make $949,000 in cuts without losing funding. If the final cost was below that estimated $16.3 million, then the school would have to return 75 cents of every dollar not spent. The state said it would not provide additional funding for the increased project estimate of $17.2 million.
Board member Jack Kusek asked if the board could reject the previously-accepted general contractor bid and seek new bids, seeing how can be saved by using brick and block instead of precast panels. He said contractors told him they could do it for cheaper that way.
“Is it the end of the world?” asked Kusek. “You might as well take our designs and throw them in the waste can and start all over,” VanDusen said.
VanDusen said this action could upset the accepted bidders and cause a rebid for the whole project. He said the plans would have to be completely redone and cause at least a two-month delay which might raise the cost of the project.
“They don’t know the building like we know the building,” said VanDusen about Kusek’s suggestion.
Kusek said he was concerned because the current project does not get the district alternatives, such as expanding the parking lot and improvements to the stage.
Dockter said the suggested cuts would allow some money to use on these projects and the board also could use left-over contingency money to add alternatives later. Hermes also said he was planning on applying for grants that could provide savings on the project.
The board agreed to approve the $134,222 in cuts recommended by Allied. The board then unanimously voted to approve the HVAC and electrical bids with the price reductions. The contract will be finalized by May 3.