ELY – An official groundbreaking ceremony was held this week to commemorate the start of work on the $ 20 million school renovation project for ISD 696, but questions swirled in this community regarding the rejection of construction bids by the school board and the project schedule.
During a tense study session on Monday evening, Superintendent Erik Erie told council members that following the recent tabulation of construction bids for the second phase of the project, Kraus-Anderson (KA ), the school district’s construction manager, and Architectural Resources Inc (ARI), the school district’s design company, recommended that the entire renovation be rejected.
Bid tabulation documents indicated that the second phase of the project would cost more than double what was planned, rising from around $ 4 million to over $ 8 million.
Mike Dosan, Senior Project Manager at KA, joined the study session via social media. âThe second bid, which was mostly for renovations to the Washington buildings and the Memorial, didn’t get where we wanted it to,â he said. âWe didn’t get the offer coverage we expected. Of the 24 application files, 12 of them received only one offer. We expected more coverage. We recommend that you do not approve any of the auctions in this package. “
Dosan suggested that the school board submit a new bid for the second phase of the project in October. âWe think the market would be a little better than it is now, given all the material cost increases we’ve seen, and just the market for tenders coming in in the winter as people look harder at work and aren’t filled with workloads right now, âhe mentioned.
Dosan also suggested that the school district work with ARI and KA to ârefocus the scope,â or look for ways to scale the project down to stay on budget and complete it by fall 2022.
School board member Darren Visser urged the district to “rethink some things to save money” in case the new offerings go over budget again.
Dosan stressed the importance for the school district to refocus the scope of the project this summer, well ahead of the resubmission process in October. âWe will start these meetings with ARI and the school district to focus on that,â he said. “We want to feel good about what we are proposing to bid on in October.”
Anne Oelke, director of K-5, has been assured that the Washington Building Media Center, intended to become the new center for early childhood and family education, will be renovated and ready to open early of the 2021-2022 school year.
Dosan noted that part of the new ECFE facility was tendered as part of the first construction package that was approved earlier this spring. âThe first offering was mainly focused on the demolition and removal of this area, and the refurbishment to rebuild it was part of the second offering, but we will demo and rebuild it for this fall,â he said. .
âWith the rejection of offers from package-two, we will develop a list of things that need to be done to coincide with what’s happening with the addition and package-one,â Dosan said. “We would change the order (the work of the ECFE) in the project this summer to do it for the fall.”
School board Tom Omerza pushed the construction manager to increase the marketing of the ISD 696 school renovation project in order to get more bids for each part of the phase two project and avoid get a single offer for as many aspects of the project.
âI would say we did a good job in that regard for the second and the first offer,â Dosan said. âI think the tender (for phase two) in May has something to do with it. Some of the entrepreneurs may have decided they were too full and didn’t want to expand too much. It could have been part of the reason. If we can revamp the scope and get it bid in October, we’ll have time to get the word out. We have 32 packages in phase 1 that entrepreneurs are already ready to work on. “
Dosan struggled to explain why half of the work areas for the second application package received only one offer. âPart of it may be a distance issue, or if they’re all busy. I am sure there are several factors. Lots of people we called said they had just been booked for the summer, âhe said.
Dosan said the demolition work on the campus is on schedule, but admitted that the rejection of the application will cause delays on when the renovations (initially scheduled to begin this summer) will be completed. “We hope that the reorganization of the scope of the October submissions will achieve what we agree on and that we can continue to do the work by fall 2022.”
âIf we go over budget overall, what are our options?â Omerza asked.
âOnce we reassessed the revised scope of the tenders, we would also come up with a series of alternatives so that we could choose from the offers. We want to make sure that the funds are used as much as possible, âDosan said. âWe take this seriously and we take responsibility for it. We are not where we want to be, obviously. “
Oelke asked if aspects of the first phase of construction, mainly involving the construction of the new building between the Memorial and the Washington buildings, could be scaled back to compensate for the higher bid in the second phase.
Dosan said nothing was on the table. âWe don’t want to decide this on our own, so it will be a discussion for us,â he said. ARI has already done a little work on this this week. “
Visser insisted on looking at even minor things to consider cutting back. âLet’s not forget the $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 things. These things also add up. “
Oelke added: “We sold to the public that our existing buildings are 100 years old and that we really want to take care of these buildings and not just focus on the middle (new building), but on the whole project.”
Erie also reported that the asbestos removal process required in the demolition work for the renovation project now amounts to over $ 200,000.
Request for a book ban
School board members received a report on the District Advisory Committee which included a review of the school curriculum, specifically the high school curriculum and required reading materials. The committee did not recommend any changes to the English program.
Earlier this spring, a parent in the district asked the school board to remove a book from the mandatory reading list for grade 11 students in English.
The book in question is âI Am Still Here, Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,â by Austin Channing Brown. The 2018 New York Times bestseller is described as follows: “With a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of the growth of blacks, Christians and women that shows how the history of White America’s love of “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals. . “
Raising his objections, parent Chad Davis said it was a book “filled with hate speech, racial divisiveness, anti-white rhetoric, and a culture of cancellation, all rooted in theory. criticism of the breed â.
Erie said Memorial School’s English department reviewed the book and the ban request. âEven the professional learning community associated with the English department also read the book,â he said. âThe UK Department has recommended Principal Anderson continue to use it to support the standard he is associated with. Principal Anderson gave her support and told me she was okay with continuing (with the standard). I also support this. This is the process that we have used and will continue to do. “
Erie said the administration would continue to study Minnesota School Board Association policy 606 regarding textbooks and instructional materials. School board president Ray Marsnik has said he wants the MSBA policy in place in ISD 696 for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.