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Project work underway at Cheney schools

Much of Betz Elementary's new wing is up; earth being moved on other projects


Last updated 7/5/2018 at 10am

John McCallum

Members of Cheney's school board got a chance to see the progress of construction on the $2.448 million expansion and upgrade of Betz Elementary School last Wednesday.

Construction work on all four of the Cheney School District's facilities included in 2017's $52 million bond is underway.

In a presentation to the school board last Wednesday, June 27, OAC project manager Rusty Pritchard said work on the three elementary school expansions was "going gangbusters." Prior to the meeting at Cheney High School, the board toured work at nearby Betz Elementary School, where walls and most of the framing is up on the $2.448 million expansion.

Pritchard said windows should be installed by mid-July, with the school's old boiler "demolished" and a new one on the way. The biggest part of the work remaining is construction of a new, more secure entry on the building's existing portion.

Work at Windsor Elementary School is also underway, where $5.576 million is being spent on a new classroom wing, a new multipurpose room, kitchen and secure entry. Pritchard said one of two portables has been removed, with the other one shifted to a new location. Site work includes moving earth and preparing the existing structure to accommodate the new eight-classroom wing.

Work at Sunset Elementary School, which features not only 10 new classrooms but a new gym as well, is also underway, much in the same manner as at Windsor. Pritchard said instead of bidding landscaping work out, district maintenance crews will do the job as well as installing the irrigation system, saving an estimated $30,000.

Finally, with the groundbreaking ceremony prior to the meeting, the high school expansion is underway. Pritchard said the district is on time in submitting its information to the state in order to receive approximately $7 million in unhoused student funding for the project, with a final guaranteed maximum price (GMP) scheduled to be sent to the board for approval later in July.

The biggest issue for the high school construction is cost escalations due to recent changes in U.S. trade policy. Pritchard said materials such as piping, sheet metal, concrete and aluminum are seeing 30-35 percent price hikes in the last couple of weeks, with fuel rising 10-20 percent.

"All public projects are getting hit pretty hard," he said. "We've got some challenges, I don't want to mislead you."

Pritchard said the increases have led to some bid packages being over budget. He and representatives from Lydig Construction, the project's general contractor, are talking to the low bidders to find out ways of reducing costs such as going with "what's right, what's best and what's more efficient."

John McCallum can be reached at


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