Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Cheney school board OKs reallocation of project funds

 

January 18, 2018



The Cheney School District’s board of directors approved three items at their Jan. 10 meeting related to expansion and renovation of three elementary schools covered under a $52 million bond passed in February 2017.

Two of the items were design development documents for Sunset and Windsor elementary schools, allowing architects and engineers to proceed to producing documents necessary for contractor bidding of the two projects sometime in February or March.

The first item, however, was passage of a resolution reallocating contingency funds from the district’s “Owner’s Management Reserve” (OMR) account to cover overages associated with all three projects — which includes Betz Elementary School. The original approved project MACC — Maximum Allowable Construction Cost — for the elementary schools was $5.1 million for Windsor, $5.3 million for Sunset and $2,268,438 million for Betz.

These amounts were used in the schematic design phase, however in correspondence from project architect ALSC, firm principal Steve Walther wrote that work in the design development phase of Sunset and Windsor had increased the “opinion of probable cost” (cost estimate) to $5,680,049 at Sunset and $5,373,108 at Windsor.

The current cost estimate from Betz increased to $2,379,623. The cost variance for all three projects total $764,342, however the total OMR funds approved by the board for release to the projects was $461,019, leaving a remaining program OMR budget of $61,153.

In a “decision paper” recommending reallocation of OMR funds, ALSC cited three factors increasing the cost estimates at Sunset and Windsor. Site improvements needed for safety, traffic and pedestrian circulation, increased parking and site drainage and landscaping were all “almost double the original budgeted costs.”

Estimated costs for new boilers were “miscommunicated between the estimate and the drawings,” along with inclusion of newer larger and more efficient boilers now referenced in the drawings. Finally, a recent bid on a project in the Mead School District showed labor and commodity pricing for glazing, steel, roofing and drywall had increased.

ALSC principal David Huotari told the board the new project MACCs matched the new cost estimates, and that they would be watching how the construction market responds to various economic conditions as the bid dates approach.

“The goal of the estimating process is to be in the middle of the bid pack,” he said.

In reports, district enrollment in January showed a decrease of 34 students from December counts. Director of Finance Kassidy Probert said this was a district-wide decrease and not tied to any one particular school.

While the numbers put the district below its projected full-time equivalent student counts for the year, the January total of 4,566 was still 68 students ahead of enrollment at this time in 2017.

“We’re still in a good spot for the year,” Probert said.

An annual report from Catheleen Schlotter, the district’s coordinator of federal and state programs, showed the district was serving 105 students, comprising 58 families, through its home-schooling program. Additionally, five of the 93 students who declared homeschool status last year have since returned to full-time enrollment status.

Finally, Superintendent Rob Roettger gave a draft review of the district’s legislative priorities. The four areas district officials and board members hope to emphasize for legislative action this year are support of mental health, social and emotional learning; increased special education funding; changes to the assessment system including de-linking of statewide assessments from graduation requirements and the school facilities program that include passage of the $4.4 billion capital budget and updating the funding formula to cover 100 percent of school construction.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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