The contract for new construction at the Southwest Area Career Center was awarded at a startling low price at the February regular meeting of the Monett R-1 Board of Education in February.
The week before the board meeting, bids were opened for what was expected to be a $2.2 million to $2.4 million construction addition at the Career Center. Nine bids were submitted, providing "great competition" between the contractors, according to Superintendent John Jungmann.
Plans call for a 5,000 square foot addition on the shop for the construction technology class. Another 7,800 square feet will be added on the west classroom wing of the Career Center. This space will house the Family and Consumer Science program presently in the high school, two new business labs for classes presently held in the high school and a technology lab, which will free up space inside the Career Center itself.
The contract went to Sides Construction, of Cape Girardeau. Although Crossland Construction, of Columbus, Kan., had the low base bid, Sides offered the better deal on the alternate bids, and thus got the contract.
Total cost was $1,520,343, or $89 a square foot.
"We hit the market just right," Jungmann said, to get a bargain price, when general construction has been estimated at around $120 a square foot.
Moreover, state money for building vocational and technical schools is available again. That means the state will cover half the construction costs, so the district will only pay $45 a square foot for the expansion, the rest being reimbursed.
"This is a great opportunity to get classroom space at a tremendous value for the district," Jungmann said.
Other opportunities for facility improvements may be possible with federal Economic Stimulus Act money coming into the state budget. Jungmann told board members not many decisions had yet been made about how the money will be spent, but it appears a one-time shot of funds for Title I and special education will go straight to the schools.
The administration will be thinking of ways to use that money, he continued, mostly on resources and technology upgrades. Jungmann did not want to put that money into salaries or benefits components that would disappear when the one-time money was spent.
Federal funding also offers the option for possible school modernization. Sapp Design Associates, the architect that worked on the Career Center and the Monett Intermediate School, has prepared a plan including modernization of the Monett Elementary School campus, as well as other renovations and energy savings. That plan has been submitted to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as state legislators from the area in a bid to get consideration.
Jungmann also told board members about a new plan for the Career Center. Talks have been continuing about developing a program to support the special education division by offering instruction on life skills. Transferring this program out of the school into a house, more like a classroom lab setting, may encourage learning of independence.
To do that, the administration has explored putting the program into one of the houses recently purchased near the Intermediate School. Independent Living, of Joplin, provided input and determined renovations to make the houses fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would be more expensive than going another route.
Since the construction technology class at the Career Center builds houses, Jungmann said plans are now being considered to have the class specially build an ADA-compliant house that could be placed in one of the lots by the Intermediate School as a transition setting for the special education students. Since this would be a vocational learning facility, 50 percent of the cost for the house could be reimbursed by the state, Jungmann said.
Board members were intrigued by the option and agreed to study it for at least a month.