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$1 million contract for addition at Roosevelt is awarded

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has awarded a $1 million construction contract to build a seven-classroom addition at Roosevelt Elementary School.

The School Board awarded the contract at a special meeting at noon Monday.

Kue Contractors of Watkins submitted the lowest bid among the eight companies that submitted proposals. Work could begin later this week, and the contract includes a completion date of Dec. 14.

The addition is needed to make room for all students in grades K-5 in the district's two largest elementary schools. Two smaller elementary schools closed at the end of the last school year.

All eight bids were less than the construction estimate of $1.28 million. Kue's was the lowest, with a base bid of $995,000. An alternate bid to add more bookshelves in the classrooms was added to the base bid, bringing the construction bid up to slightly more than $1 million.

"The bids received on this project were extraordinary," said architect David Leapaldt of GLT Architects of St. Cloud.

Architects and school officials met with company representatives last week before recommending that the board award the contract to the company.

The bid specifications included minimum qualifications for the general contractor and the subcontractors that company hires.

Leapaldt said his firm has worked with Kue (pronounced KEE) Contractors on other projects. "They have a history of doing good work," he said.

Having eight general contractors bidding is unusual, Leapaldt said. "It attracted a lot of attention; we must have hit it at the right time," he added.

Leapaldt also recommend the district enter into two separate contracts for inspections of construction materials and roof installation.

Hiring a firm to watch over the installation of the roof membrane and flashings would cost the district about $3,000, he said.

Board members had several questions about what the inspector did. The district spent about $1 million over the past four summers repairing incorrect installation of the roof at Willmar Senior High.

"It seems like a pretty cheap insurance policy," said board member Wayne Lenzmeier.

Board members asked Leapaldt to have a proposal ready for them to consider at their regular board meeting on June 22.

Leapaldt also recommended hiring an independent firm to do construction testing. The firm would double check soil correction work, concrete, compaction, welding and other work at the site.

Because that contract needs to be in place before construction starts, the board gave Leapaldt and Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington the OK to get quotes and have a contract by the end of the week. The board set a limit of $10,000, but Leapaldt said he expected the contract to cost less than that.

Other costs associated with the addition include $89,000 for architect fees, $4,000 for printing costs and $17,500 for technology.

Harrington said the budget for the entire project was $1.46 million. That includes all the other fees, along with a construction contingency fund.

The money for the addition will come from the district's operating capital revenue for the 2009-10 school year. Funding will also come from the district's fund balance and from the general fund if necessary. Lower bids make it less likely that the general fund would be tapped to help pay for the addition, she said.

Board Chairman Brad Schmidt said he was pleased with the bids.

"I feel like we've made the right decision, and the district should benefit from this reconfiguration," he said.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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