Mark Taylor
Following a brief discussion on the legality of hiring a construction manager without taking bids, the Gardner Edgerton School Board adopted a resolution to put a $72.790 million bond issue on a 2012 ballot.
Patron Bill Sutton, Gardner, expressed concern about the board’s hiring of Manning Construction to oversee the bond projects without first soliciting bids from other companies.
Superintendent Bill Gilhaus told Sutton that state statute does not require competitive bids for “services” like construction managers.
He said the district instead compared fees with what other districts paid for construction managers in recent months and negotiated a fee with Manning on the “low end” of the spectrum.
The board approved a 5.3 construction management fee with Manning compared with an average 6.5 percent fee paid by other districts for construction management services.
Gilhaus said had Manning’s fee been higher, the board would have opened the work to bids.
Ron Ragan, board president, added that the school board has elected to reuse construction plans from the past to save money and Manning is familiar with those plans.
“If you make a cookie once, you can probably make the same cookie again.” Ragan said.
Board members were also told that Manning has a history of completing projects under budget, including Pioneer Ridge Middle School, which was estimated to cost $24 million and was completed for $21 million.
The board unanimously approved hiring Manning, after adopting a resolution to put the bond issue on the ballot.
Patrons of the Gardner Edgerton School District may be asked to vote on the $72.790 million on Jan. 31, 2012.
Gilhaus said the work is needed to accommodate a student population that continues to grow by 6 percent per year and is pushing several schools beyond maximum capacity.
The proposed bond issue mail-in ballot includes:
• A new elementary school ($18.348 million) to absorb growth south of Main Street. The district’s seventh elementary school would have a capacity for 500 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Construction would begin in Spring, 2012, and the school would open in Fall, 2013.
• A new middle school ($30.192 million) to relieve current growth at Wheatridge Middle School and future growth at Pioneer Ridge Middle School.  The district’s third middle school would have a capacity for 800 students in fifth to eighth grade. Construction would begin in Spring, 2012, and the school would open in Fall, 2014.
• Land acquisition ($2.066 million) to accommodate the new elementary and middle schools, and expansion of athletic fields at Gardner Edgerton High School.
The district on July 11 authorized a $1.429 million purchase agreement for 39.22 acres to accommodate the new elementary and middle schools.
The property is located west of Moonlight Elementary on Grand Street between Center Street and Moonlight Road.
The land was purchased with a temporary note in advance of the bond issue.
Gilhaus said if the bond election isn’t successful, the district will have to pay off the note within 42 months using capital outlay funds.
• A new multi-purpose activity center at Gardner Edgerton High School ($7.971 million) to facilitate basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, track, aerobics, dance, and strength training.
Gihaus said additional athletic developmental, gymnasium and locker room space are needed at the high school as a result of increased participation in physical education, athletic and activity programs.
• Various capital improvements ($8.2 million)
District wide: Improvements to roofing, parking lots, furniture, lighting, playground equipment, ceiling replacements, doors, etc.
Gardner Elementary renovation: Paint, carpeting, HVAC repair, casework, furniture, doors, etc.
Sunflower Elementary renovation: Carpet, furniture, ceilings, doors, windows, parking lot replacement, casework, etc.
GEHS District Activity Complex expansion: Additional seating, visitors restrooms, concessions, field upgrade and press box expansion.
Technology upgrades ($6.013 million) in all schools and district management systems.
Gilhaus said timing is critical because it takes 12 to 18 months to build an elementary school and 18 to 24 months to build a middle school.
He said if growth continues to occur at 6 percent, half of the district’s elementary schools will be over capacity by 2013.
Wheatridge is currently over capacity and Pioneer Ridge is expected to be over capacity by 2013.
There is also increasing community demand (parks and recreation, churches, etc.) for facility space.