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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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Board OKs bid to build school gym

The School Board approved a contract to build a new gym at Smith River Elementary School on Thursday.

The board accepted the lowest bid from Ausland Group in Grants Pass of a little less than $2.5 million. 

This is about $350,000 over the estimated cost of construction, but the district is moving forward  in hopes of receiving a grant to cover the balance; otherwise, it will borrow against the future sale of its bond money.

This is the second effort to secure a builder for the gym. Last year, construction bids were well over the district’s cost estimate.

The gym will replace a small, antiquated one at the K-8 school in Smith River and is to be paid for with funds from the $25 million bond passed by voters in 2008. The district originally allocated $2.4 million for the gym.

The district put the project out to bid last fall, but the lowest bid  came in $900,000 over the cost estimate. The low bid then was from Ausland Group for $3.2 million.

The School Board rejected the bids and the project was modified to bring down costs.

The district recently received verbal approval from the Division of the State Architect, which has the final say over new school buildings, to go ahead with the redesign.

The size of the gym was decreased slightly, the specifications changed, materials switched to less expensive ones, the time frame for construction was lengthened and playground construction was taken out of the project.

A district maintenance crew then built a new playground and outdoor basketball court.

All of that made a difference in decreasing construction costs, said Deputy Superintendent Rodney Jahn, adding the district is still $350,000 short to build the gym.

“That’s a lot better than $900,000,” he said.

The entire project will cost about $3.2 million (it was previously estimated at about $2.8 million), down significantly from about $3.9 million after the initial bids last year. Beyond construction costs, there are fees for the architect, engineers, inspectors, new playground equipment, demolition and relocation of the parking lot and play area.

The district has $2.4 million allocated from the first sale of bond money. The school and the Wildcat Pride Building Fund Committee has raised about $225,000, about $121,000 in bond money was reallocated and the School Board committed about $130,000. That’s just under $2.9 million, leaving a little more from $350,000 still needed to build the gym.

The Wildcat Pride Building Fund Committee has been in contact with Del Norte’s representative to the California Endowment for Building Healthy Communities and has received an indication that there could be grant money to fill the funding gap. The committee will ask for $350,000 from the foundation, said Sally Sarina, a committee member.

There are certain features, such as bleachers and wood flooring, that the committee is not willing to give up to reduce the cost further, she said.

“We more than made an effort,” she said.

If it doesn’t get all of the money needed, the School Board decided Thursday that the district will make change-orders (to reduce the cost) or borrow against the future sale of bond money to cover the difference. As a result, Smith River School would get less bond money for other maintenance projects.

Construction is expected to start this summer.

Also Thursday, the School Board approved the 2012-2013 budgets for the school district, County Board of Education, Castle Rock Charter School and the independent charter schools, Uncharted Shores Academy and Klamath River Early College of the Redwoods.

Reach Kelley Atherton at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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