West Fargo’s second high school is now set to begin its final stage of construction.
The West Fargo School Board unanimously awarded bids Monday night for the second phase of the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center expansion, which includes the Fine Arts and Gymnasium areas of the soon-to-be Sheyenne High School.
The bid for the general construction of Phase II went to Meinecke-Johnson Co. of Fargo, and will include a few amenities not previously planned, including an auxiliary gymnasium with a wood floor, an orchestra classroom and interior finishes for fitness rooms. The mechanical construction bid went to Manning Mechanical of Fargo and the bid for electrical work went to Scott’s Electric Inc. of Wahpeton. The bid for special inspections and quality assurance testing went to Northern Technologies of Fargo.
The estimated budget for this project was set at $10,590,500 with a contingency of $430,000.
However, by accepting Meinecke-Johnson’s alternate on the auxiliary gym, which would be put in place to allow additional practice space if the main gym is being used for a game or other event, the district is over budget on the project by almost $350,000.
“Most other local high schools have an auxiliary gym, and that is for a good reason,” board member Dave Olson said. “We’re going to be hurting for gym space... and it is a teaching space. It’s not like Astroturf on a football field. It will be useful.”
The main question the board members had was a simple one: “Can we afford it?”
“There are a lot of factors, but when we look at just the $82.5 million bond referendum (approved by the voters in May 2011), we currently have $1.5 million that are not committed to any specific project,” business manager Mark Lemer said. “If we were to award this as presented, we would be committing $350,000 of that to this project. From that standpoint, the funds are available, and it will never be cheaper than it is today.”
According to Lemer, “value engineering” may help in cutting down on construction costs.
The board also approved a “Joint Powers” agreement with the Fargo Parks District regarding the construction of recreational areas on the upcoming elementary school site along 54th St. South.
The new school will share a property line with Fargo Parks property, and the agreement sees that both the School District and the Parks District will split the costs of parking lots, playgrounds and athletic complexes - based on expected usage from each group - along that line. For example, since the school students are more likely to use the basketball courts, the district has agreed to pay for 70 percent of their cost.
Likewise, since the Parks district is more in need of a playground system for younger children, they have agreed to cover 85 percent of that cost.
The parking lot will be split evenly between the two parties.
“We are trying to maximize the amount of space available, and that has required us to treat that property line not as something we can’t cross, but really as if it doesn’t exist,” Lemer said.
The agreement is for 25 years with five-year renewals after that. Certain aspects of the shared property, such as when athletic complexes are reserved for each party, will be reviewed annually.