Maximum cost of SSISD projects at ECLC, high school about $25,000 less than expected
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

April 11, 2006 -- The "guaranteed maximum price" submitted by construction managers for projects at Sulphur Springs High School and Early Childhood Learning Center were about $25,548 less than expected.

The school board approved the $1,792,646 guaranteed maximum price presented by J.T. Turner Inc. for construction of new classrooms at Early Childhood Learning Center, as well as the $5,359,265 for construction and renovation at Sulphur Springs High School.

The decision came during Monday night's Sulphur Springs Independent School District board meeting after trustees reviewed a packet of information, including estimated bid amounts and the overall guaranteed maximum price presented by project manager Matthew Mulliken.

Mulliken explained that the figures were based on project bids received March 28 from several companies for a number of projects.

The high school estimate includes construction of new science labs and fine arts areas, as well as renovation of the existing band and choir hall, and science lab.

The estimates do not include "any work associated with the foundations repairs."

While the ECLC project's price tag is expected to be more than originally estimated, the high school project is expected to cost $156,000 less than anticipated. That puts the overall cost for the two projects more than $25,000 under budget, according to Mulliken.

He assured school officials that if the final project turns out to be less than the maximum guaranteed price, all remaining funds will be returned to the district.

When asked by board member Robert VanWinkle why the foundation repairs were not included, Mulliken noted that the plans for that phase of the bond project were not yet ready for bidding. The other projects were bid so that J.T. Turner could go ahead and begin collecting materials for the project, as well as line up subcontractors to perform each task in order to begin the work on schedule this summer.

The board also Monday approved the $87,295 bid from Priority Services of Fort Worth to complete asbestos abatement at the high school this summer. The bid was the lowest submitted from among five companies with the top bid coming in at $156,769 and the next lowest at $133,290.

Dale Guest, district director of plant operations, noted that about 10,000 square feet of asbestos was removed from the office area over the Christmas holidays, and that the remaining 73,000 square feet will be abated in sections over the summer. That will allow office functions to continue uninterrupted during the summer, with only sections of the school closed during each phase of removal to minimize disruptions in any other areas at the school. The project is expected to take about a month to complete, and is "considerably under budget" thus far. That will help fund replacement flooring in abated areas, to be put down following foundation repairs.

Another money matter addressed during the meeting was a grant application the district is submitting to the U.S. Department of Education in hopes of receiving one of 45 grants awarded nationally to help fund salaries for additional elementary school counselors.

The district is asking for $300,000 for three additional elementary counselors, a social worker and contract with a school psychologist, as well as related programs. Schools can apply for renewal of the grant for up to three years. The U.S. Dept. of Education will announced the elementary school counseling program grant recipients this summer.

In other matters, board member approved the application to be submitted to Texas Education Agency requesting a waiver which would allow the district to begin the 2006-2007 school year on Aug. 14, one week ahead of the date set by the state.

According to the application 895 parents and community members signed the petition in favor of the early start date, while 80 indicated they are against it. The request is to keep the schedule in line with the school calendar used over the past several years, as well as to provide an additional week of preparation for Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests and so the first semester can be completed before the Christmas break.

TEA is expected to notify school officials within the next month whether the waiver has been accepted.

The board members also approved a contract for an annual audit. A new wellness and health services policy was also approved, along with board approval to donate one computer and printer to Project Graduation Celebration.

A land swap deal with the city of Sulphur Springs, exchanging SSISD property on Magnolia Street for property on Fore Street, was also approved.

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