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David A. Fischer

Vo-ag building plan is put on hold

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Vo-ag building plan is put on hold

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HARTINGTON — Hartington-Newcastle School Board members have been crunching numbers and debating costs on a new Vo-Ag building for several months.

That debate carried into Monday night’s special School Board meeting.

What should have been a routine meeting to accept a bid, turned out to be 55 minutes of looking through proposals with a fine tooth comb, and searching for possible discrepancies and savings.

“We’re torn, obviously these bids came in a lot higher than we wanted,” Board President Jason Dendinger said upon entering the Board Room.

“Normally, the building committee comes in with a recommendation for the full board, but we are torn because of the cost of this.”

After nearly an hour of discussion on the lone item at Monday’s special meeting agenda, Ian Lange finally made a motion to table the issue so they could get more costs concerning unexpected fire safety expenses.

“I can see merit in tabling this, but on the other side we do need to move on this,” Dendinger said before calling for the motion.

The Board has scheduled another special meeting for Monday, July 1, at 5:30 p.m. to further discuss the issue.

At issue is a plan to build a new vocational-agricultural building just east of the current vo-ag shop.

The cost for the project could be as much as $1.2 million to build the new 7,518 sq. foot vocational-agricultural building.

Before the issue was tabled Monday, it was expected that construction would begin July 8 and would then be completed before the end of next March.

The Board received a bid of $1,135,794 from Hartingtonbased RaDec Construction to construct the new building. It will replace the current facility, originally constructed as an interim church after Holy Trinity Catholic Church burned. When the new Holy Trinity opened in 1967, the building was sold to the Hartington School District.

If that bid were accepted contingencies for unexpected expenses as the project goes along could push the total cost up to as much as $1,249,373.

“These contingencies, we certainly hope we don’t have to worry about those, but if something unexpected were to arise, then it’s banked in,” said Supt. A.J. Johnson.

Johnson said if the contingencies run higher than $112,000, then RaDec would have to cover those expenses.

“With a Construction Manager at Risk, that’s how it works, they assume the risk if things come up and the project goes over budget,” he said.

Johnson said one contingency has already been realized. An updated fire alarm, water main, water sprinkler system, and a few other fire code changes will need to be made.

A rough estimate on these expenditures comes in at around $50,000.

Since the construction cost is already higher than projected, these fire code changes, will need to be examined further to see if any expenses can be pared down, said Board member Jason Heikes.

Supt. Johnson said the school district has been putting money aside in a building fund for this project, so it can all be paid for out of reserves.

Board members want to be sure they have enough money in those reserves to pay for this project, though.

“These bids came in a lot higher than we wanted,” Dendinger said. “There are things in here that we just had to have and they are not likely to go down soon.”

Heikes noted the price of concrete and the price of steel are very high at this point, and the board could potentially see those costs drop if they waited awhile.

Dendinger said waiting may only make the project more expensive.

“We talked about scrapping this and starting over next year. We don’t know if there would be any savings in doing that,” Dendinger said. “A couple of years ago when we started talking about this, it was cheaper. Things are only going to go up.”

Current designs for the new building call for two class rooms, an enlarged shop area, an office, bathroom facilities and a special work area for FFA.