Archive for Wednesday, October 13, 2004

If voters OK bond issue, work would start soon

October 13, 2004

Nobody knows if the Tonganoxie school district's proposed bond issue will pass.

But patrons who will vote on Nov. 2 may be wondering, if the bond issue does pass, what will happen next.

On Nov. 2, voters who live in the Tonganoxie school district will decide whether to approve a $25.3 million bond issue for school construction.

If approved, the district will:

  • Build a new 5-8 middle school on the district's 80 acres near Pleasant and Washington streets.
  • Remodel and add to the existing grade school to convert it to a K-4 school.
  • Remodel and revamp the high school and junior high into a 9-12 high school.

John Fuller, a principal of the DLR Group, an architectural firm hired on a contingency basis to lead the school through construction, said the process will start almost immediately if the bond issue passes.

DLR architects will start by talking to the user groups, including the school board, administrators and key leaders of each building to come up with a schematic design, Fuller said.

"That's taking all the pieces and parts that have been included in the bond issue and putting them into the right place," Fuller said.

It's possible, Fuller said, that as early as December, schematic designs for the grade school and high school may be ready to present to the school board. The design for the middle school may take a month or two longer, he said.

As far as time of construction goes, Fuller said the goal is for all of the work to be completed by summer 2007.

However, it could be quicker than that, he added.

"In working with Turner Construction, we're hoping to accelerate that schedule so that we could have a lot of the work done by the summer of 2006, with the exception of the middle school, which would not be completed until the holiday break of the 2006-2007 school year," Fuller said.

Local project manager

If the bond issue passes, Kris Roberts, who works for Turner Construction, will be project manager.

Roberts, who lives in the school district, has two children who attend Tonganoxie schools.

She said she believes in the project, not only on a professional level, but also as a parent.

"There's no reason to postpone it," Roberts said of the proposed school construction project. "We're already stretched for space -- why would we want to prolong our collective agony?"

In Roberts' opinion, the school district is making the right moves at the right time.

"I really think that by waiting three years, I think that Dr. Erickson has a very solid case for needing this bond issue. I think he's done his homework," Roberts said.

And, it appears, Roberts said, the growth will continue.

"I think Tongie's going to keep growing," Roberts said. "I don't think it's going to stop."

If the bond issue passes, the first step will be for the school district to negotiate contracts with DLR and Turner Construction, Roberts said.

"Both Turner and DLR are working on a contingency basis, which means that anything that has been done has been done in good faith," Roberts said.

Next, as Fuller said, DLR will move forward with designing the project.

One of Turner's roles during the pre-construction phase will be to watch the budget.

"I think one of our primary functions is making sure that what is drawn doesn't go over budget," Roberts said.

Roberts said, because the school district hired a construction manager rather than a contractor, the school board will actually sign contracts with individual contractors. This could include services such as earthwork, electrical, site utilities, masonry, acoustic ceilings, Roberts said.

"The construction manager will act as the owner's agent as far as making sure the work is done," Roberts said. "We supervise the work, we have a superintendent on the job and we act as the owners' representative in dealing with the individual contractors."

Local bidders welcome

And, Roberts said, local contractors will have the opportunity to bid on work.

"If we have a local contractor who could do masonry for one building but couldn't handle all three, maybe what we'll do is have a bid package for the high school and a bid package for the middle school," Roberts said.

She said she hopes local contractors will bid, and noted the bids will be sealed until read at a public bid opening.

"I think it's important to have local participation because that means that money being spent on the school stays in the area," Roberts said.

Roberts said she hopes the district is able to start taking bids on work in the spring of 2005.

"I would like to be very aggressive," Roberts said. "I would like to hope that we would break ground on the middle school by next spring."

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