The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Sean C. Morgan
Of The New Era 

School Board hires engineer, architect firms


October 10, 2017

The Sweet Home School Board Monday voted to hire ZCS Engineering to complete engineering on seismic upgrades for three elementary schools and gLAs Architects to design renovations to Sweet Home Junior High.

ZCS Engineering

The district will pay ZCS Engineering $185,000 for work at Hawthorne Elementary School, $166,000 for Foster and $136,000 for Holley for architectural consulting, structural engineering and construction management.

The company engineered and managed the current $1.4 million seismic upgrade project in the Sweet Home High School auditorium.

The projects have all been funded by grants from the State of Oregon. In addition to funding last year for the auditorium, the state has awarded the district an additional $4.5 million for upgrades to the three elementary schools. The state did not fund a grant for Oak Heights Elementary.

The grants will improve the buildings’ ability to withstand earthquakes, protecting lives. Strong has described it as "life safety standards.”

Work is nearly complete in the auditorium, Strong told the Board Monday night. All of the seismic work is complete. The auditorium has been repainted, and new windows have been installed. Ceiling lights were installed Monday.

The district is awaiting new wall sconces, which are on back-order, Strong said, and acoustic paneling will be installed by the end of October.

"Best of all, it now meets life and safety standards,” Strong said.

The district will likely begin construction at Hawthorne in summer 2018 and at Holley and Foster in summer 2019.

"We’d like to get started with the engineering work at this time,” Strong said. ZCS is the only firm to respond to advertisements for the project, and ZCS has been handling most of this work in Oregon.

gLAs Architects

The district will pay $644,000 to gLAs Architects to design the Junior High renovation and the safety improvements to entry areas in each school across the district.

Strong said that gLAs Architects is the same firm that designed Sweet Home High School.

Strong and Maintenance Supervisor Josh Darwood checked with other districts that have used the firm since then, Strong said. They toured an elementary school renovation in Toledo, a new high school in Waldport and a new PUD operations center in Newport.

"We’re optimistic we’re going to be happy with our selection.”

The projects are funded by a $4 million bond approved by voters in May. The state is matching the bond with a $4 million grant.

In the project, the district will redesign the leaky roof, giving it a slope to help it drain. The proejct will remove old modular buildings and create two new classrooms and a multipurpose room that will serve as a new cafeteria.

It will move the office, creating a new entry area at the office and add a new gym, electrical and plumbing upgrades and new windows.

The bond also will cover hot water pipes, windows and other minor projects at elementary schools.

The district selected gLAs from among three firms that responded to a request for proposals. Also responding were Sonderstrom Architects and BBL Architects.

"As part of the facility assessment, we have met with Chris Walkup, the gLAs principal that would be in charge of our project if the board selects gLAs,” Strong and Darwood said in a memo to the board.

"Chris has been an excellent listener and very easy to work with. He understands that we are trying to accomplish as much as we can with limited project funds.”

They came away from the tour impressed with his work, they said.

Construction at Sweet Home Junior High and the hot water and windows at the elementary schools should begin in summer 2018, according to a timeline Strong submitted to the board Monday. The new entrances are scheduled for summer 2019.

The Bond

Prior to the election, Strong did not expect the bond approved in May to increase property tax rates. The district has refinanced a previous bond twice to reduce property tax rates and to shorten the length of the bond repayment, with a final partial payment on the bond in 2027.

The bond measure approved in May restored the projected length of the bond repayment period to about 2029.

Linn County released the 2017-18 tax summary Friday, Strong said, and it shows the district’s bond tax rate decreasing from $1.62 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2016-17 to $1.59 per $1,000 in 2017-18.

The initial bond tax rate in the 2001-02 property tax year was $1.91 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, Strong said. Since then, the rate has decreased as assessed value grew and when the district refinanced the bond at lower interest rates.

The initial estimate for a tax rate of $1.62 was based on an assumed 2.75-percent increase in assessed values, Strong said.

"With stronger assessed valuation growth, the tax rate decreased.”

Present and voting to hire the two firms were Ben Emmert, Jason Van Eck, Jason Redick, Chairman Mike Reynoldss, Angela Clegg, Carol Babcock and Debra Brown. Chanz Keeney and Jim Gourley were absent.

In other business, the board:

n Reviewed and approved alternative education programs for 2017-18.

n Held the first reading of a policy revision updating teacher professional development forms.

n Held the first reading of a working agreement between the board and superintendent and their expectations of each other. The agreement was developed during a board training session in September, and it establishes protocols and expectations.

n Approved the hiring of Jennifer Ashcraft, .75 full-time equivalent ESOL teacher.

n Accepted a donation of three washing machines valued at $900 from Like-Nu Appliance.

n Accepted a grant of $1,473.67 to Junior High science teacher Michelle Clarno from Corvallis Environmental Center for the Classrooms Take Charge program.


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