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Helmut Schmidt, Published March 12 2013

West Fargo accepts bids for next elementary school

WEST FARGO – The West Fargo School District caught a break on bids for its next elementary school.

The school board voted 6-0 Monday night to accept $9.4 million in bids for the school, planned to open by fall 2014 at 3700 54th St. S. in Fargo.

The board budgeted

$9.2 million for the project, putting the low bids an estimated $150,000 over budget. Architects had predicted a cost of $10.5 million.

The district’s next elementary will be in Fargo’s Valley View Addition, Business Manager Mark Lemer said.

The low general construction bid of $6,412,500, plus a $36,200 bid for concrete parking lots, was submitted by Lee Jones & Son Construction of Fargo.

The low mechanical construction bid of $1,720,041 was submitted by SA Mechanical of Fargo.

The low electrical construction bid of $1,209,220 was submitted by Scott’s Electric of Wahpeton, N.D.

The low quality inspections and testing bid of $21,986 was submitted by Braun Intertec.

The total of the bids was $9,399,947, or $1,116,053 less than the architect’s estimates, Lemer said.

Superintendent David Flowers said he had worried that the cost of materials and skilled labor to build the next elementary school would be driven way up by construction in North Dakota’s western Oil Patch. But that worry wasn’t borne out, he said.

Freedom Elementary School, which opened last fall, cost $132.90 per square foot, while the new building will cost $134.93 per square foot, Lemer said.

The total estimated cost for the new elementary is $11.12 million after furniture, equipment and books are figured in, Lemer said.

In a related matter, the board voted 6-0 to delay a decision on buying $298,800 in classroom amplification equipment for all kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms that are not yet equipped.

Board member Dave Olson called on fellow board members to reconsider the expense, given that they’ll have to look hard next year to find perhaps $12 million in the budget to open yet another elementary school south of Interstate 94 if enrollment keeps growing.

“I am just nervous about having available money,” Olson said. “We’re going to be faced with a hurdle a year from now. It’s coming. And I think we all know it’s coming. We’ll have to scrimp and save to come up with $12 million.”

The district is committed to all of the projects promised in the $82.5 million bond issue approved by voters in 2011, except for a $400,000 conversion of part of West Fargo High School into a separate wing for ninth-graders for when they are transferred back to that school.

Just over $1 million remains unobligated from the $85.8 million generated from the bond sales and interest, district figures show. If the classroom audio equipment is not purchased, the $319,000 budgeted for that expense would also become available, Lemer said.

He said a plus for the audio project is “this is one area that benefits the whole district, north and south.”

He said the ability for all students to easily hear their teachers will “make a difference day to day.”

The board decided the issue would go back to the planning and development committee before being brought up again at the March 25 meeting.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583