This week, following the recently completed sports complex and high school entrance upgrades, Scott County USD 466 began its extensive construction and renovation project at its middle school, which is so far coming in under budget.
Hutton, a Garden City construction company satellite managing the project, already has begun clearing trees from the area and will begin preliminary construction within the next few days, after a groundbreaking ceremony last week, said Andy Fahrmeier, Hutton team leader in Garden City. Construction is expected to last through the end of next summer, and renovations of the existing middle school through the fall 2019 semester, he said.
The project, originally budgeted for approximately $19 million, is the most expansive phase of a $25 million project for the district’s three schools that Scott County residents, as well as district families in neighboring counties, voted in favor of by a slim margin in November 2017, said USD 466 Superintendent Jamie Rumford.
The middle school project includes a new wing of classrooms, music and band room, competition gym and renovations in the older building, Rumford said.
In a previous article, Rumford said the additional space will help accommodate across-the-board enrollment growth at the district over the past few years. At the time, he said the district ultimately planned to move its approximately 150 third- and fourth-grade students to the expanded middle school building, hosting an upper level elementary school for grades three through five on half of the school and a middle school for grades six to eight on the other half. The change would free up significant space at the elementary school, he said.
“Once that middle school is done, the new part will be the six, seven and eight wing and then the renovated part will be the three, four and five. So, we kind of have two identities within one building,” Rumford said Tuesday.
If the project moves forward as scheduled, Rumford said the third- and fourth-grade students likely would be moved at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester, a mid-year transition that he said may be tricky. He said he was considering an open house event for families at the completed middle school to help ease students and parents into the change.
Rumford said he didn’t expect the fenced off construction site alongside the middle school would disrupt student activity.
At a special meeting earlier this month, the district’s school board approved approximately 45 percent of subcontractor bids for the project, totaling $8,579,195, or about 4 percent under the original estimate.
The lower actuals come partially from lower-than-expected steel and aluminum costs, the former of which came out roughly $185,000 less than what was budgeted, according to a story in The Scott County Record.
Fahrmeier said Hutton prioritized time sensitive bids necessary to the beginning stages of the project. He said a board meeting regarding the remaining bids, which The Record said totaled about $10.5 million, has yet to be scheduled.
Though Hutton and the district and board will need to review all final bid estimates to be sure, Rumford said the below budget projections could mean the return of updates previously cut from the bond project for cost, such as renovations to the existing middle school gym, funding for the second half of the new sports complex parking lot and updated furniture in the elementary and middle schools.
At the moment, Rumford said, such projects are budgeted on top of the bond project through capital outlay.
The district-wide bond project also included over $1.5 million in projects for the new sports complex and elementary school renovations and approximately $600,000 in high school renovations, Rumford said. He said the middle school received the most funding partially because it’s the district’s oldest, unrenovated building at the moment.
“It’s been outstanding. The upgrades that we’ve made are just outstanding … Everything is kind of how we envisioned. And once you see it, it’s even a little bit better than what you envisioned. And we’re just excited to let it impact our students and our community,” Rumford said.
The high school renovations, consisting of a restructured and more secure entrance through the front office, was completed by the first day of school on Aug. 16, said Scott County High School Principal Brad McCormick. Fahrmeier said both the entrance and sports complex were completed within budget.
Rumford said work on the elementary school renovations, which will include the construction of a new music room that will double as a storm shelter, will begin in May and last through the summer.
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.