Weather Forecast


Construction season begins soon at WFPS

There was a collective sigh of relief when several West Fargo school construction bids came in lower than expected. There was a groan of disgust, however, when another came in more than $100,000 over budget.

It's a drama that seems all too familiar with the West Fargo School Board.

During Monday's regularly scheduled meeting, the board approved several bids for various planned construction projects in the district, while also approving the advertising for bids for another.

Business Manager Mark Lemer has been through every step of the process so far, and had the numbers to back up board decisions.

The first order of business was authorizing administration to bid for the West Fargo high school food service department renovations. The school board voted unanimously to approve the motion.

"It's a two-phase process," Lemer said.

The initial phase is scheduled to begin this summer, while the final phase will start next summer. Total cost for the project is estimated to be approximately $785,000, Lemer said.

Funding will come from the district's One-Time Supplemental funds, so federal mandated wage rates will not be a budgeting issue as they were with other recent projects, Lemer said. Money also already is earmarked for the construction, so funding didn't come as a surprise, he said.

Phase 1 of the kitchen construction involves building a new addition to the high school, which would incorporate a larger cooler, freezer and additional storage area. Phase 2 would be remodeling of the existing kitchen space, and will include office space, storage space and the receiving area.

Bids approved for various projects

Also Monday, the school board unanimously approved several bids that came in for projects at West Fargo High School, Cheney Middle School, and Osgood Kindergarten Center.

Renovations at the high school to replace wall coverings and carpeting originally were estimated by YHR Partners to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $310,000. The board discovered Monday, however, that the lowest bid came in nearly $100,000 under that amount.

The board unanimously approved to award Gast Construction Co. Inc., with the project. Their base bid for $183,600 and alternate bid for additional finishes of $33,800 was tough to pass up. Gast will be replacing carpet and wall coverings at the thigh school.

Associates with YHR noted the bid came in low partly because of work the district already completed in-house. Still, the board agreed that it was refreshing to see such a low price tag.

The lowest bids for a Wellness Center addition to the high school also came in lower than expected.

YHR Partners had originally estimated the project would cost more than $1.7 million. But Monday, the board discovered it could save nearly $160,000.

The board unanimously approved to award bids for general construction and the application of the Packers logo into the flooring to Minko Construction Inc. for $1,082,700. Electrical and mechanical bids were given to Midwest Mechanical Construction for $329,615, and Hope Electric for $161,000.

Lemer recommended the board delay awarding bids of $24,000 until April, 25, for replacing veneer panels on the outside of the high school. The project was "merely aesthetic," he said, and would be better to approve until a later date when more important projects were taken care of and funding was certain to be available.

Board members were relieved that these projects came in under budget. This is compared to recent construction bids that came in markedly higher than estimated costs, as presented to the board during their last meeting March 14. At that time, construction and addition bids for the Osgood Kindergarten Center came in more than $100,000 higher than expected.

The board received some similarly tough news Monday.

The lowest bid for site improvements to Cheney Middle School came in from Cobalt Contractin Inc. for $567,000, or more than $123,000 higher than estimated by MBN Engineering. An associated with the firm said the difference was partly their fault, as they forgot to add the cost back in after switching from asphalt to concrete. Even so, the cost still was significantly higher than expected, he said.

Lemer said his initial reaction was to rebid the project, but after going through the details he couldn't see where the bid possibly would come in markedly lower.

Instead, some value engineering choices will be utilized, similar with what occurred at the Osgood. After some substitutions and subtractions, Lemer said they were able to deduct $48,000 from the project by revising football field goalpost, changing irrigation and eliminating concrete curbing around the track.

The project still will come in over budget, Lemer said, but it's more manageable.

"It's a long overdue project, and we owe it to our middle school kids to do this," Board Member David Olson said.

Results also were brought forward from value engineering at the Osgood Kindergarten Center. Once originally exceeding the budget by more than $108,000, costs now will be only slightly more than $2,000 higher, Lemer said.

The board approved the changes, as well as allowing administration to continue searching for potential reductions.