District considers bids for new elementary project


JASPER — Construction of the new Jasper Elementary School is behind schedule, but the school is still on pace to open at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

The Greater Jasper School Board was slated to award general contractor and utility bids for the project in a meeting that was canceled last week, and at a special meeting this morning, Superintendent Tracy Lorey said there is a “slim possibility” the bids could be awarded at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, April 23.

She stressed the responsibility she and board members have in regards to spending taxpayer dollars.

“At this time, we’re requesting additional time to review all these,” Scott Stenftenagel, The Stenftenagel Group’s clerk of the works who works alongside the corporation on construction projects, said this morning. “We are not prepared to make a recommendation at this point. We just need further time to qualify all the bids.”

The slowdown comes in part from the vetting and comparing of the project’s alternate and equipment bids. The alternates include items like terrazzo floors in common areas, the kind of windows that will be installed, the material the building’s roof will be made of, landscaping options, and more items not included in the price tag of the project’s base bid — which was estimated to be roughly $31 million.

“All of those alternates are put in to either improve the value of the building or maybe improve the safety of the building,” Lorey said. “But most importantly, alternates are used to be able to protect the budget. It gives us some flexibility. It allows us to either add them if we are able to or —  if we need to protect the budget — to remove them as part of the project.”

Stenftenagel said all five of the general contractor’s base bids were submitted in line with the projected project cost and were competitive. About 15 other contractors have submitted bids for different bid packages that cover other work inside the building.

Those contractors are required by the project bid specifications to guarantee the pricing of their bid for 60 days after they are opened, which means the amounts are locked in until Sunday, June 3, as the corporation vets and assesses them.

Stenftenagel explained that as soon as his group, Gibraltar Design and corporation attorney Art Nordhoff feel comfortable with the qualifications of the contractors, they will recommend a bidder to the school board.

The hitch in the schedule shouldn’t influence when kids will start attending the school, Stenftenagel said. The school is still hopeful to break ground on the two-year project in late May. Stenftenagel estimated the corporation would still have owner occupancy of the building in June 2020 — still months before the first students would enter the new classrooms.

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