The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 14, 2013

Central School Board surprised by high bids for new operations building

Superintendent will spend some time with local contractors
architects to find out why the bids came in greater than expected

---- — DEWITT — “We cannot justify going ahead at this price,” Superintendent Dan Peterson told the Central Community Board recently when discussing costs of a new operations building.

Bids for construction of a new operations building came in higher than the already-high estimated cost of $1.4 million. There were four bidders with Tricon Construction of Dubuque submitting the low base bid of $1,356,000, and eight alternatives, including an exterior canopy and asphalt or concrete road. With the canopy and road work, the total Tricon bid was $1,737,250. The low bidder with those three alternates was Hennigsen Construction at $1,710,074.

“This is more than we can spend,” Peterson said, as he recommended rejecting all bids.

Board member Jim Irwin noted that the cost was $70 per square foot, which was “crazy” when talking about a warehouse area. He said it should be $35 per square foot and that the price was “unrealistic.”

Peterson said he would spend some time with local contractors and with the architects to find out why the bids came in so high.

The board followed up by taking no action on sale of the former Krieger property at 100 E. 11th St., which serves as the current operations facility. Two companies submitted bids: RLR Enterprises, Inc., of Wheatland (Ross Rowold) at $275,000, and MCP LLC of DeWitt (Dean Holst) at $200,000.

With the unknowns of the operations facility, Peterson recommended no action until further direction is pursued.

Only one comment came from the public in hearings before each decision. Former teacher and long-time resident Pam Duncan asked why a new building was needed now when there was no maintenance person and why the Krieger building was purchased for use.

Irwin, who was on the board at the time of purchase, said Krieger’s was the last piece of the facilities puzzle. It was bought because of parking issues and it freed up parking spaces. The original intent was to sell the property as soon as possible, with the district even going back to the old bus transportation facility. However, that area was now being used for classes.

With one director of operations, Irwin said, a new operations building and selling Krieger’s are the last things needed to get done for facilities. A new building would centralize everything in one place. The utility cost at Krieger’s is about $20,000 a year and the district still needs space for general maintenance even without a mechanic available. Irwin added that the 11th Street area should be used commercially and should generate taxes.

Board member Steve Fuglsang agreed with Irwin that a new facility was needed since vocational classes are now held at the old building, and he said he is in favor of continuing that use.

Board member Jennifer Naeve said the old transportation building was not the most efficient space for what is needed today. She also said the district should have funding and/or a step-by-step process to build a new operations facility.

The board approved the final reading of a revised debt management policy with some changes, interim board member Tami Petsche was sworn in; and Peterson reported four school buses and one car were sold on eBay for more than $10,000.

Hired were Jacquelyn Daters as the high school flag corp coach at $11.28 per hour, Jason Guerin as the assistant varsity boys basketball coach, and Barb Sanders and Leslie Roling as general food service workers at $11.93 per hour. The resignation of teacher associate Heidi Lang was accepted.

The board approved five legislative priorities: continued progress in standards and benchmarks in the Iowa Core, equalization of per pupil funding, reform of Iowa’s K-12 education system, setting allowable growth commensurate with school improvement and actual cost increases, and repeal of the mandatory school start date. The priorities, plus a possible addition of returning school board members to three-year terms, will be sent to the Iowa Association of School Boards.