Alice Campbell Havre Daily News email@example.com
Dick Anderson Construction Inc. will build a $1.5 million addition to Highland Park Early Primary School South, beginning next spring. The project, in three phases, will add six classrooms, one for special education students complete with a restroom/shower room. It will also add six offices, a set of handicap-accessible bathrooms, a widened hallway, an extra exit, a janitorial closet, a storage room, a mechanical room and eventually a multipurpose area. The multipurpose area will be in stage three and is not included in this round of construction. Architects will look into ways to make the building energy-efficient and use green technologies where plausible. According to preliminary plans, the project will be completed by the middle of August, which will allow for all kindergarten and first-graders in Havre Public Schools to be under one roof, a goal that the school board has been actively pursuing for several months. Anderson won the bid over two other contracters in a "construction manager at risk" process used to speed construction before costs rise. Through the process, the plans did not have to be completed before the bids went out. The board interviewed the prospective companies last week. If the contractor spends more than budgeted, the company must absorb the extra costs instead of the school district, giving the board leeway in choosing a firm, not strictly on the lowest bidder. Trustee Norm Proctor made a motion that Anderson be awarded the bid, but received no second. After a nomination for Sletten Construction by Curtis Smeby failed in a vote, Proctor renominated Anderson, which won in a 4 to 2 vote with Darlene Bricker and Harvey Capellen dissenting. Capellen said he was impressed by Sletten's planning and concern for the safety of students. Board chair Shad Huston voiced his concern about whether Sletten would come in at cost or not, even though in an at risk bid, the contractor absorbs costs that go over budget. Estimated cost per square foot by Anderson also was slightly cheaper than Sletten, he added. As trustees, the board has a responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, Proctor said. The three firms presented each other with stiff competition, superintendent Dave Mahon said, and regardless of the firm chosen, "we're (all trustees are) in favor of this construction." He's confident Anderson will do a good job, he said. A formal decision about the fate of Highland Park Early Primary School North has not been made. "We're going to whatever benefits the kids the most," Mahon said. In other construction news, an easement through Havre High School propErty for a sewer line to be installed to service a proposed subdivision near the school, has been approved with the understanding that any damages to the soccer field and the sprinkler system will be repaired at the cost of developer Steve McLain. Havre Public Works Director Dave Peterson spoke in favor of the easement, saying that the city is in favor of the project and easement, as well, and that if future construction on the site needs to occur, the line might not even have to be moved. A private property owner, who's land the line must also cross, has given verbal agreement, McLain told trustees. Earlier, the board requested additional information about the line's placement and how much money Mclain would save from going through the school property instead of along the street an amount that a report prepared by Jeremy Siemens said would cost $104,516.51 through school property versus $136,125.21 along the road. Trustee Lee Christianson, while not at the meeting, submitted a letter that Huston shared with the board, in which Christianson wrote that being a "good neighbor" would pay off in a tax-base increase and more funding for students. It will be good for the taxpayers living in the subdivision, which will cater to older citizens, to see school grounds and activities that they support, Huston said. Montana School Board Association legal counsel will draw up the terms of the easement, Mahon said, with Mclain agreeing. McLain also agreed to stipulations, including that the school district not be responsible for repairs to the line, that monetary compensation might be warranted depending on the amount of disruption the line's installation causes to the school, and that the easement can only be used for the sewer line and would be reverted to the schools' control if it is no longer used for its intended purpose. No formal agreement will be written until the project has gained state approval. Briefs Enrollment is not as low as expected after the first official enrollment count done for the State Office of Public Instruction, clerk Zella Witter said. Because the senior class is slightly larger than expected, it helped offset the low number of freshmen, making the enrollment numbers slightly better than expected, she said, adding that after the current seventh- grade class comes up to the high school, the school should start to see enrollment numbers move upward again. "Our elementary is thriving with an increase of 82," she said. Total, the district has 1,916 students, compared to 1,870 from fall 2009. K-8 saw an increase of 6.2 percent, with grades 9-12 seeing a decrease of 6.2 percent. Another official count taken in early February will be averaged with the fall count. Then the schools will have a better idea of what funding amounts will come from the state, Witter said. Mahon requested input about the schools' Native American Heritage Day activities, saying that the schools had various activities during the week for students including field trips, educational workshops and Native American dancers. Huston said he would have liked to see a powwow take place again, adding that the first one last year seemed to go smoothly and was well-received. Board members received evaluation forms for superintendent Mahon. His contract must be renewed or not renewed by Feb. 1, 2010. Trustees approved the appointment of Jamie Standaert as a prevention specialist for one year only, Bridget Marnell as a substitute teacher and Melony Steckel as a substitute bus driver. They also accepted the resignations of paraprofessional Gary Pfister and maintenance laborer Steve Berreth. Brandon Berreth was reassigned from custodian to maintenance laborer. Paraprofessional Summer Stricker was not moved to permanent status.