R-2 board awards bids for bus barn warehouse addition

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 6/30/21

Bids for a $353,306 bus barn warehouse expansion project were approved Monday night following discussions on cost and how the project will help better maintain supplies and control costs in the …

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R-2 board awards bids for bus barn warehouse addition

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Bids for a $353,306 bus barn warehouse expansion project were approved Monday night following discussions on cost and how the project will help better maintain supplies and control costs in the future.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner along with Gary Pohlmann, transportation director, both rallied for the project during the June 28 meeting.

“This would greatly improve our ability to be able to store or distribute products that would accommodate the size of the district that we are,” Garner said prior to the meeting. “When we get product in and only have a closet here, not where it is needed but it is the only place to store, it makes it difficult to move. We could purchase things at a lower rate if we had the space to store it.”

Garner explained that sometimes vendors could offer paper by the truck load at a lower cost, but due to storage constraints the district could only purchase half a truck load and the price went up. The same goes for food vendors and other types of supplies. The bus barn warehouse is already used for storage but it isn’t big enough to meet the district’s needs.

“We already have a warehouse there, so it is expanding that warehouse side that we want,” Garner said. “The other side stores snow plows and mowers. The transportation department isn’t getting bigger.”

Garner explained to the board that rather than hire a contractor for the project, the board would operate as their own representative and request bids for parts of the project.

“We took bids for concrete, we took bids for the electrical, we took bids for the excavation to try to get the lowest bids we could,” Garner said. “Bids came in a little high in a couple of areas.”

The expansion project is for a 60-by-80-foot space that will double the warehouse size to help combat the storage issues with paper, food and cleaning products to help get a better price by buying in bulk. Having everything in a central location will also help with distribution to the multiple buildings.

“The total bid was $353,306,” Garner said. “That is taking into account all of the low bids with the addition of a 10-by-20-foot walk-in freezer that is going to provide Lori (Angel, nutritional director) some freezer space to help get her better prices for her food products as well.”

Garner added that because of the way the funds were transferred into the capital improvements fund that the district will be able to use ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds for the project.

Director Molly Steinbeck asked about the amount budgeted versus the total cost after bids.

“We started with $250,000 and went to $270,000 because we added the freezer to it,” Garner explained. “We added that on after we had to rent that box truck from Hilke’s Ice when our freezer went down. That was an expense to have that truck sitting in our parking lot. That’s about 30 percent over what we budgeted at the start.”

Garner said there were a few options to bring them back into budget. They could try to wait to ask for bids as prices come down.

“The problem with that is our vendors,” Garner said. “Some of them are going to see a 10 percent increase in product next month and then another 10 percent in 60 days. They do think it will come back down at some point, but they don’t know how far it will come down or when it will.”

He said the $270,000 number was maybe not the best number to budget in. Pohlmann added that if the board looks at construction prices, there is a 30 to 35 percent increase across the board in that industry.

“If you take our budget, plus 35 percent of that, then we are right on the head,” Pohlmann said. “It would be nice if we had a crystal ball to see what everything is going to do. Lumber had bottomed back out, but they predict it will be two years for the price to get back to where it was because of supply and demand.”

Director Jean Baker asked Pohlmann when the building would be finished. Pohlmann said things have been pushed way back.

“It used to be 12 weeks from the time you ordered it,” he said. “Now it is 16 to 20 weeks. Early spring, realistically.”

Garner said another option to bring them back under budget is to scale the building down, but he is reluctant to do that.

“Some of the other projects we have done in the district that we scaled back on, we later regretted that,” Garner said. “When we were first laying out the needs of things, 60x80 was what we came up with.”

The board approved six bids to complete the bus barn addition with a 7-0 vote, not to exceed $353,306.

Awards went to Jahnsen Construction ($90,350 for concrete), Gruenloh Excavating ($10,402 for site work), Pohlmann Construction ($189,400 for erecting the building), Central Electric ($15,950, wiring and lighting), Heritage ($23,824, HAVC), and Proct ($23,380, walk-in cooler).

They later approved on a 7-0 vote a concrete bid not to exceed $70,365 from MDC Concrete for a connecting bus road between the OHS and the elementary school.

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