An engineer hired by the Blaine County School District to oversee construction work planned for this summer at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum is estimating costs at about $3.4 million, significantly higher than an estimate made in 2009 of just over $2 million.
Brian Formusa, of Hailey, told the board of trustees at its monthly meeting Tuesday that the estimate is still preliminary and is based primarily on comparable work done in 2010 on Bellevue Elementary School. Formusa said the Bellevue project cost about $2.8 million but Hemingway is about 20 percent larger.
Formusa did not explain the differences between his latest estimate and the 2009 estimate, but district Business Manager Mike Chatterton said the costs will be explained in detail at a special school board workshop scheduled for April 4.
The Hemingway work was included in a $59.8 million plant facilities levy approved by Blaine County voters in 2009.
The work will include replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, coming up with a solution to an ice buildup problem that occurs during winters on the east side of the building, as well as door, carpet and water fixture replacements and security upgrades, including installation of cameras and electronic locks.
The 2009 estimate for the Hemingway work was made by McKinstry Essention, a Seattle-based engineering firm now embroiled in multi-million-dollar litigation with the School District. The district claims it authorized only $18.6 million in work and McKinstry is complaining it did work worth close to $26 million and that the district still owes it about $7 million.
The hiring of Formusa represents a departure from the way that the McKinstry work was performed on Bellevue Elementary School and seven other district schools and facilities. Under the McKinstry contract, work was overseen by McKinstry engineers working under the direction of district Director of Buildings and Grounds Howard Royal.
Formusa was approved as Hemingway project engineer by the district board of trustees in January. He was selected from among four engineers or engineering firms that responded to an engineering services proposal issued by the School District in November 2012.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Formusa assured the trustees that the project would be run differently than the work under the McKinstry contract.
“We’re managing it very close and tight from cradle to grave,” he said. “We’ll have a lot more control.”
Other construction projects
Chatterton told the school board that budgets are not yet ready for approval on either an expansion project at Wood River Middle School or a remodeling project at Hailey Elementary School.
For the Hailey work, Chatterton said design was delayed until a decision was reached by the school board on where to relocate the Autism Spectrum Disorder program, typically referred to as ASD, currently at Woodside Elementary School. Relocation is necessary because the school board voted earlier this year to make Woodside into a magnet school for Dual Immersion studies only by the beginning of the 2014 school year.
After discussing the issue, the board voted to move the ASD program to Hailey Elementary and locate it in a basement area where the remodeling will be done.
The space, earlier used for maintenance work and storage, will be converted into three classrooms. Construction is planned for this summer at an estimated cost of $350,000 to $400,000
The middle school work involves building a new wing on the east side of the building for eight new classrooms. A preliminary budget estimate is about $1.6 million. Chatterton said final design is still not done so the actual cost has not yet been determined.
“We just don’t want to put the contractors and everybody in a situation where they’re not ready and not comfortable,” he said.
Learn about levy spending
The Blaine County School District board of trustees has scheduled a special workshop for Thursday, April 4, for a detailed update from district Business Manager Mike Chatterton on spending from a $59.8 million plant facilities levy approved by Blaine County voters in 2009. The meeting will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the district office at 118 W. Bullion St. in Hailey. The public is invited.
Terry Smith: email@example.com