JHS Bid Approved

Board Approves $74.64 Million JHS Bid

August 19, 2014

At a special board meeting on Monday, August 18, the Johnston Board of Education voted to accept the base bid with alternatives from Stahl Construction (Minn.) in the amount of $74,640,000 for the construction of the new Johnston High school.

Leading up to this approval, there was much discussion around maintaining what was promised during the bond referendum, making sure the new high school would have the pieces in place to create new opportunities for students and ensuring no additional financial implications would fall on our taxpayers.

A bird’s-eye view of the new Johnston High School. The BOE awarded a $74.64M bid to Stahl Construction on August 18; groundbreaking will likely be in September.

A bird’s-eye view of the new Johnston High School. The BOE awarded a $74.64M bid to Stahl Construction on August 18; groundbreaking will likely be in September.

To recap a timeline of benchmark events:

  • The Board set a project budget of $72.4 million – January 2014
  • The low bid came in at $74.3 million – August 6, 2014
    • The Owners Group (made up of school board members, architects, and district leadership) presented a recommendation to accept the low bid – from Stahl Construction – with the alternatives that included upgraded flooring (Terrazo), auditorium seating and a change from asphalt to cement parking spaces (this was a credit to the project budget). Additional funds also had to be budgeted for and set aside for items taken out of the rebid including the data cabling, audiovisual and surveillance. These items will be bid out at a later time. This brought the total cost to $75.9 million.
  • Another recommendation was made to add back the additional storage space near the gym area ($650,000). Placing the storage space back into the project would be responsive to the input received during the design process and will not only return needed storage but also add space for severe weather locations. This space needs to be included as part of the original construction as it cannot be added later in the design.
  • It was also recommended that as the HS project progresses and funding allows, that consideration be given to phasing in portions of the stadium project. The first recommended step would be to add the track and turf field. This would allow physical education, marching band and the sports that use these spaces to stay at the HS site versus be transported to the current track and field. This would cost approximately $2 million and will be bid at a future date. Improvements to the current turf field will be made this year with approval at the next board meeting.
  • Lastly, a contingency fund was also put into place to cover any unexpected costs. The amount of this fund is typically around 2.5 percent of the total budget; our fund will be approximately $2.4 million. This dollar amount was not specifically identified prior to the August bid date.
  • This brings the project to 3.1 percent over the January 2014 approved budget of $72.4 million with an additional $4.64 million for alternates and items to be completed later, $650,000 for the added back storage area and a $2.4 million contingency fund.

Superintendent Dr. Corey Lunn said that although a budget gap remains, there are numerous ways the district can bridge the difference.

“We believe the budget gap and cost to add the above amenities to the project can be managed with the creative use of our existing funding – without impacting our taxpayers or the middle school and Wallace Elementary projects,” Lunn said.

The following sources will be utilized for additional funding:

  • $700,000 from the Food Service Fund to go toward a kitchen in the new high school. This is a built-up fund reserved specifically for the new high school project.
  • $1 million in PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) fund that can be put toward construction projects.
  • $4 million from the decision to sell the revenue bonds privately.
  • $1 million trimmed from the FFE fund (furniture, fixtures, equipment).
  • $1.3 million borrowed from the dollars earmarked for the move of the ARC to the existing Wallace building. It is believed that over the course of the delay in this final project, the district will be able to make up this money.
  • Additional dollars from energy rebates

Lunn said that with board approval, the district can begin on an exciting new phase of growth and development.

“We’re anxious to get a shovel in the ground and get started on this project,” Lunn said. “We hope to break ground in September and make some headway before winter sets in. This is a very exciting step in improving our teaching and learning environments for students, staff, and the community.”