The Monett R-1 Board of Education opened bids on May 23 and discovered the competition had narrowed itself to Branco Enterprises, which built the high school, and Smith, which built the Southwest Area Career Center and renovated the Intermediate School.
Around 10 sets of plans had been picked up, reported Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann, and up to five final bidders were expected. Jungmann said the field narrowed itself as contractors looked at the complexity and detail of the project.
The decision ultimately boiled down to dollars. In comparing the same items, R.E. Smith's bid came in around $180,000 lower. Smith's basic price was $7,049,500. Contingencies and architects' fees added about $1 million more to the total price.
"Our goal was $7 million to $8 million," Jungmann said. "The price was right on our goal. The good news is we were able to buy a lot of alternates as we had hoped, including a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) gym. No matter if the FEMA grant money comes in or not, we will have it."
Building a gymnasium up to FEMA standards will provide the first FEMA-quality storm shelter in the city and the first storm shelter on the west side of town. The district has applied for FEMA grant money, which would cover 75 percent of the gym's cost.
The board voted on May 27 to award the contract to R.E. Smith. The contract calls for construction to be completed in 420 days, or 15 to 18 months. Jungmann said long-range plans to connect buildings on the south end of the campus would come later. Combining the classrooms for kindergarten through second grade and building the new gym would be done in time for the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.
"We hope the contractor will be on site in the next couple weeks," Jungmann said. "We will schedule a groundbreaking."
The majority of items came in under the architect's estimates. The average cost of new construction totaled $100 per square foot, less than construction costs prior to the economic downturn. Renovation expenses ran less.
"The price speaks well to the board's decision to move on this quickly," Jungmann said. "The architects [with Sapp Design Associates] felt good about the planning process. The numbers came in with what had been projected. The district will get the facility at a considerable value."
The first step will be to remove the playground equipment on the north side of the campus. Crews working outside the construction contract should finish that job in the next month.
"We are extremely excited to get this project underway," Jungmann added.