Sealed bids from contractors wishing to take part in the construction of the new $2.4 million addition onto Vermillion High School were received Tuesday, Nov. 26 and opened on at 2 p.m. that day, according to Mike Jamison of Puetz Construction.
“We had a total of 50 qualified bidders on the 16 individual bid packages and we had qualified bidders on each bid package,” he told the Vermillion School Board at its regular meeting Monday night in the Al Neuharth Media Center on the campus of the University of South Dakota.
The new addition to the high school 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.
For approximately 35 years, administrative offices have been located in downtown Vermillion, in a building leased by the school district.
The revenue to pay for the construction, which is expected to cost about $ 2.4 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 Vermillion School Board hired Puetz Corporation, a firm based in Mitchell, to serve as the construction manager of the proposed building addition last September.
“After the bid opening, we reached out to all of the apparent low bidders to review the project’s scope and confirm that they were comfortable with their bid and were comfortable also with moving forward,” Jamison said. “We did have one bidder … that asked to be removed from consideration. They had an error in their bid so we went to the next low bidder. I think the difference in cost was about $4,000.”
He noted that Puetz Corporation was hired by the school district to accomplish two things related to this project.
“One was to make a recommendation on when we should look at our construction window; the second was to take a look and help validate the construction budget put together by TSP,” Jamison said.
TSP, of Sioux Falls, is the project’s architectural firm.
“In October of this year, we presented to the building committee our estimated probable cost of construction and that number was $2.377,027,” he said. “With the bidding process that we just completed, the construction cost came in at $2,340,620 -- approximately $30,000 under our October budget.”
Four alternate bids were also included among the bid packages opened Nov. 26.
“Alternate one was to deduct radiant ceiling panels in the addition and that was a savings of about $23,000,” Jamison said. “Alternate number two was to add exterior canopies for about $18,100. Alternate #3 was for case work for $4,650 and then an add for phased construction to allow us to have access to that vestibule on certain occasions -- that add was $5,650.”
“Maybe we can talk about this with the building committee who met with Mike and the Puetz Corporation reps last week to talk about these,” Superintendent Damon Alvey said. “One of the discussions we had about alternate one, which is the deduct of the radiant heat panels … it was decided at that point with that group that the radiant heat panels with a large exterior brick wall would be appropriate and would be good to keep.
“So we would want to keep that alternate in and not take out the $23,000 savings by removing those heat panels,” he said.
Alvey also discussed the exterior canopies that were part of the bid. Board members, during the process of planning the new addition, had expressed a desire for the canopies to make the northwest exterior of the high school more esthetically pleasing. The bid cost of the canopies came in at $18,100.
“At this point, we were sort of neutral on that,” he said, noting that according to contractors they had talked with, the cost of the canopies “was a fair number.
“They said that’s probably as good a number as you’re going to get, however, we didn’t commit to that, at least as a building committee, to keeping that in until we talked to the board,” Alvey said. “We were hoping that maybe we could find some cheaper than that and be able to do that.”
He noted that the building committee was in favor of keeping alternatives three and four. Alternative four, which would allow access to a vestibule that would run through the new addition “has been a priority of ours. If you’ll remember in our discussions, we’re concerned that when that vestibule is not in use, it’s going to force patrons and students to another entrance in the building,” Alvey said. “We also recognize with heavy equipment and other construction needs that we don’t want people to be going near that entrance if not absolutely necessary, so that $5,650 is there to help us to shore up and provide some protection so that during the day we may close that off so construction workers have full access to come and go and to keep students away from there.
“But in the evening, if we have a volleyball game, and we want to open that up to allow patrons and athletes to come and go, that we could have that access and that it would not be locked down completely,” he said. “We wanted to share what those four alternative bids were and have that discussion with the board this evening.”
School Board President Doug Peterson said the building committee was in agreement that alternates one, three and four should remain as part of total bid package.
“Unless someone has objections, we’re left with really a quick discussion on alternate two,” he said. “Do we want to spend $18,100 on to put canopies over the two doors on the north side of the classroom wing.”
Board member Rachel Olson noted that the bid price for the canopies was favorable. “I think that esthetic is what we are looking for and it serves a purpose as well,” she said.
The canopies would go over doorways further to the west on the high school.
“They would be designed to look like the ones that would be on the new addition so it would all look blended like they are all part of the same,” Alvey said.
“The savings of doing it now is that they have their crews there, they have the equipment, the materials all come in one order,” Peterson said.
The board also discussed a contingency fund for the project.
“When we do remodel projects, we like to have a contingency number involved,” Jamison said, “and let me explain why. When we come into this remodel project like all remodel projects, you know a lot about the project, a lot about the existing conditions, but you don’t know everything about the existing conditions.
“When we start excavating and tearing up existing walls, we just feel it’s prudent for a board to have a contingency amount set aside that you have control over,” he said. “It allows you to have some of those resources available to be able to take care of some of those needs. We would recommend a 5 percent contingency at this stage. Those dollars would be used only with the approval of the board and any of those dollars that are left would come back to the district. It’s really just a way to have a few dollars set to the side and with the discretion of the board you can move forward with some items that may come up.”
Last September, Jamison convinced the board to delay the start of construction of the new addition the spring of 2020. Waiting until after this winter, he estimated, would save the district about 4 to 5 percent in construction costs.
It is estimated that if all goes smoothly, the new addition’s construction could be complete by December 2020.