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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 21 2014

Fargo School Board approves bids for air conditioning at two schools

FARGO – It may seem crazy to think about air conditioning when temperatures are in the single digits above zero, but Fargo School District officials are determined not to have another round of school closings this August if a late summer heat wave hits.

In a special meeting Friday, the Fargo School Board voted 8-0 to approve bids to install air conditioning and upgrade boilers at Lewis and Clark and Clara Barton elementary schools.

The board approved similar work for Madison and McKinley elementary schools last week.

Bids for work to install air conditioning at two more elementary schools, Roosevelt and Horace Mann, are scheduled to be reviewed and voted on by the board next week.

The approved base bids for the Clara Barton project came to $1,396,640. The board also approved alternate bids for a new cafeteria ceiling ($22,260), battery-backed emergency lighting ($7,000) and a duel fuel boiler ($37,800).

Altogether, the Clara Barton project came in about $583,000 below design estimates.

The approved base bids for the Lewis and Clark work came in at $1,774,300, plus another $27,300 for an air-handling unit for the teachers’ lounge. The board also agreed to bids of $26,100 to upgrade the school’s boiler to a dual-fuel model.

Altogether, the Lewis and Clark bids came in nearly $108,000 below design estimates.

Board President Dinah Goldenberg was pleased that overall the bids are coming in under budget.

“This is one of the best pieces that came out of the long-range facilities plan,” Goldenberg said

Bids for the work at Madison Elementary were first presented at a Feb. 11 board meeting but held for a week because they came in at $1,692,150, about $210,000 higher than the design estimate.

But when the McKinley Elementary bids came in at $1,482,130, almost $95,000 below the estimate, the board voted Feb. 14 to go ahead with both projects.

Also Friday, the board voted 8-0 to have the district seek a state school construction loan.

While the funds in the state program have been committed, district administrators hope more dollars will become available.

The loans, with interest rates of just over 1 percent, are meant to cover 80 percent of construction costs on school projects, up to a maximum of $15 million.

The loans can be used to help fund construction of buildings, such as the elementary school planned for Ed Clapp Park, and for the air conditioning and boiler upgrades.

Obermiller, Nelson Engineering estimated the costs at the six elementary schools to be $11,258,980.

Brent Wavra, a mechanical engineer at ONE, said bids on the elementary school work overall are coming in lower than expected, in part, because his firm was conservative in its estimates.

But, he said, the district is getting good bids by separating the six projects. And contractors are “tightening their dollars” to land the business.

Board member Paul Meyers was not at Friday’s meeting.

Board members John Strand, Linda Boyd and Rick Steen took part in the meeting by teleconference.


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