Bids for construction projects lower than expected

Construction bids for additions to six District 11 elementary schools came in lower than expected this month, allowing the district to reduce the project’s budget by $2.3 million.

To accommodate all-day kindergarten in September, additional space is needed at Franklin and Lincoln elementary schools in Anoka; Adams, Eisenhower and Sand Creek elementary schools in Coon Rapids; and Jefferson Elementary School in Blaine.

The plan is to add 10,000 to 12,000 square feet at each site this summer, anywhere from six to eight classrooms. The additions will allow flexible learning and teaching space, as well as upgraded special education spaces, according to Chuck Holden, chief operations officer for the district. Construction will be finished before school starts in September.

With bids out early, before winter break, the process was competitive with companies hoping to line up business well before construction season, Holden said.

Staff recommended CM Construction be awarded the Adams Elementary School contract for slightly more than $4 million.

The Rochon Corporation was staff’s top choice to handle construction at the other five schools for a total of approximately $18.3 million.

“We had a little concern with the volume, but we’re assured with Rochon that they have the capacity for approximately $40 million in construction projects,” Holden said at the school board meeting Jan. 13. “It’s a large operation.”

Each school will have its own project manager and after interviewing those individuals, “we feel good about the process,” Holden said.

After reducing the total budget by 6.7 percent with better-than-expected bids, the district estimates the project will cost $32 million – $22 million in raw construction and the remaining $10 million in permits, inspections, city and state fees, architectural fees, furnishings and more, according to Holden.

The lease levy will fund $22 million of the project.

Decreasing debt – the district expects a $12 million drop next year – will allow for an increase to the 2015 lease levy without a drastic impact on property taxes, according to Michelle Vargas, the chief financial officer for the district.

As long as new construction is instructional space and amounts to less than 20 percent of a school’s existing area, lease levy money can be used to build permanent structures.

The remaining $10 million will come from alternative facility revenues and the operating capital fund balance.

The school board approved staff’s recommendations Jan. 13, awarding CM Construction and the Rochon Corporation the projects.

Olivia Koester is at
[email protected]