The Vermillion School Board hired Puetz Corporation, a firm based in Mitchell, to serve as the construction manager of the proposed building addition to Vermillion High School at its regular meeting Monday night.

It also heard from Mike Jamison and Jon Schmitz, two representatives of the Mitchell firm, who advised the Vermillion School Board that it would best to set a goal of late 2020 or early 2021 rather than the fall of 2020 for the completion of the addition to the high school.

Both Jamison and Schmitz had earlier talked with the district’s Building Committee and attended the district’s construction manager agent meeting, according to Superintendent Damon Alvey.

“We had an opportunity to show the scope of the job that we were looking to do here and they put in a proposal that was reviewed by the committee and they eventually were selected,” Alvey said.

“We really feel we’re going to be better off to bid this project this fall and start construction this spring,” Jamison said. “As we looked at the potential winter conditions and the cost of heating the slab, the space, the masonry walls going up, we were thinking that we were going to spend another 4 to 5 percent of the project’s cost,” Jamison said. “As we look at the idea of moving into the facility and the end of summer 2020 or December 2020-January 2021, and the costs you may incur over that time period, we think it’s a good savings (to delay construction until next spring).

“We look forward to helping your district move forward with this building project,” Jamison told board members. “The first two items that were asked to really get involved with were, one, help figure out the schedule -- when should we bid, when should we construct, when do want to have this project done.”

He said the second task Puetz Corporation will undertake is to validate the various estimates the school district will receive for the various components of the new addition.

“We want to talk tonight about the schedule,” Jamison said. “There are two schedules to look at. One would be to bid the project as soon as we can in the next four weeks, start construction this fall and have it finished up next summer.

“The other option is to look at bidding it this fall, but starting construction in the spring,” he said. “We’ve got some schools that have been starting this process and they are already at the point where they have bid and they have started construction, so they’ve got that window worked out so that we can get something accomplished before Mother Nature comes in the fall.”

After conversations internally with other staff members at Puetz Corporation and after talking with local and regional contractors and subcontractors, the corporation has concluded that delaying the construction is the best option for the school district.

“We feel that if we can do construction during the spring and summer, there’s a higher quality level there,” he said. “We’re concerned about starting in the fall. From our point of view, we’re recommending that we spend our time right now to validate the budget, work with TSP (the district’s architect) and determine that the budget is correct, put our bid project together to bid this project.”

For approximately 35 years, administrative offices have been located in downtown Vermillion, in a building leased by the school district.

The new addition will include offices for the superintendent, the school business manager and administrative staff.

It will also include an office for the school resource officer, conference rooms, storage space and a large classroom for alternative school students.

The revenue to pay for the construction, which is expected to cost about $1.6 million, will come from the district’s capital outlay funds, which also finances all of the improvements to other school district buildings.

The new addition would mean fewer facilities for the district to manage and less travel between buildings, he said. It would also provide opportunities, with more being under one roof, to deploy people to take on other jobs or take on more responsibilities.

The bids likely could be advertised in November and opened and accepted by the school board in early December, Jamison said.

“The holiday season goes late this year, so we would go immediately after the holiday season and then accept and review bids prior to the Christmas season,” Schmitz said.

“When you say starting in spring, what equates with spring?” asked board member Shannon Fairholm. “Are you talking February-March or are you talking May?”

“It’s weather-dictated,” Jamison said. “It could March; it could be April. It could be May.”

“One of the concerns is that our goal was to be done with this project by the time school started for that year,” Fairholm said. “To move people mid-stream, December-January, is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. We were trying to be able to avoid that.

“Also something to think about, too, by pushing it back, could we reverse how we do the main entrance?” she asked. “Could we get the main entrance done first so that we access to be able to utilize that space and then work on the rest of the piece so that it’s not as disruptive?”

“That’s what we’ll be working with TSP on in this next three or four weeks that we’re talking about,” Jamison said. “When we talk about phasing, we want those subcontractors to know what the phasing is, to know if we have storefront windows that need to be installed earlier than they might think.

“If we give them that phasing information, it helps them with their bidding process,” he said. “We’ll talk to you folks and also with TSP about how we want to lay this puppy out, not only for productive-ability but also for usability.”

“It’s really about a three to four month delay on the start and then a three to fourth month delay on the back end,” Jim Peterson, school board member, said. “I think it would be good to consider if we do that entry way up front so that when they (students) come back to school that’s done. The rest is going to be the target date the end of December of 2020.

Tim Schwasinger, school board member, asked if any portion of the existing high school would be unusable while the construction was going on.

“We’re definitely bumping up against an existing building. We’re creating a new set of structure outside that so we won’t be in that (existing) space a lot,” Jamison said. “I would say a majority (of the time) you should be able to maintain use of those spaces.”

“There are some elevation changes in there that we will need to deal with, ramping and stairs,” Schmitz said. “So those transitions would, as we say, happen behind the plastic and if we have barriers, we would construct those to be as sound-proof as possible.”

Superintendent Alvey asked about likely price increases of building materials early next year and if bidding the project this fall would bring any cost savings to the district.

“To bid it in the fall, in that November-December time frame, will benefit you,” Jamison said, “because you will get 2019 pricing. There’s a phase that we go through in the construction industry for shop drawings and material procurement. That also will allow that March start.

“If we do bid in November-December and we do the shop drawing process where all of the material and equipment are reviewed, they’re ordered, that gives us time for production and shipping and things of that nature,” he said. “You start with all of your material March 1, rather than if you bid it in February, you’ll run into some of those delivery time frames that may become an issue and you’re paying the premium for any inflationary component there.”

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