School Board OKs SHJH construction


April 10, 2019

CONSTRUCTION began Monday on the first phase of the remodel at Sweet Home Junior High.

The Sweet Home School Board approved a plan Monday evening, April 8, to spend $5 million and begin the first of two construction phases for the Sweet Home Junior High.

The district received voter approval for a $4 million bond levy, which was matched by a $4 million grant from the state. The district is estimating the construction at about $10 million and will draw on Long-Term Maintenance Funds to complete the project.

Under the district's arrangement, the contract-manager, general contractor model, Gerding Builders of Corvallis can adjust the project as needed and seek out bids from subcontractors together.

The district and Gerding decided to split up the project because they are continuing to work on bringing down subcontractor prices.

Gerding Project Executive John Vorhees told School Board members that the market for subcontractors is hot right now, and the district is struggling to get the best quotes from subcontractors who are able to find work without traveling.

In some cases, costs are much higher than anticipated. District Maintenance Supervisor Josh Darwood told the board that bids are coming back at twice the engineering and architect estimates, for example. District officials are looking for ways to bring that number down, while still building a quality HVAC system.


Things like that will take another eight to 10 weeks, Darwood said, but Gerding and the district staff don't want to wait another two months to begin construction.

Gerding and Darwood presented a list of work that will be handled in the first phase: surveying, excavation and utilities, site concrete, structural concrete, masonry, steel work, metal joists and decking, doors and frames, overhead and coiling doors, aluminum storefront windows and glazing, plumbing, electrical and paving.

The second phase will include rough carpentry, finish carpentry, siding, waterproofing, roofing, shet metal, flooring, painting, signs, window shades, toilet partitions, fire protection, HVAC and final cleaning.

Darwood told the board excavation started Monday, and the project is on target for the summer work, paving the parking lot and roofing.

The bulk of the construction will be complete after spring break 2020, Darwood said. District staff will continue interior renovations thereafter.

The first phase is $60,000 less than the district's initial estimate, Darwood said.

Voting to approve the expenditure of $5,017,378 were Toni Petersen, Jim Gourley, Chanz Keeney, Jason Van Eck, Mike Reynolds, Chairman Mike Reynolds, Debra Brown and Jenny Daniels. Angela Clegg was absent.

In other business:

n Board members requested that Supt. Tom Yahraes invite the city manager to explain why the city increased water rates on bulk water users by 45 percent last year.

Commercial and industrial ratepayers experienced similar rate increases.

District officials have requested the city waive the increased cost for water it uses to irrigate, allowing the district to bolster the parks and open spaces available in Sweet Home. The city's Administration, Finance and Property Committee rejected the initial proposal and then responded with a counterproposal two weeks ago.

Yahraes outlined the response, which is to reduce the district's rates to last year's level for six months. In exchange, the district would work with the city's Park and Tree Committee on projects it would complete with the savings, estimated at about $17,000 by city officials. Ultimately, the plan would go to the City Council for approval.

Yahraes said he responded to the city, saying he would like to see more of what would be expected from the district under the proposal.

"My initial concern is what the city sees as savings we see as a 45-percent rate hike," Yahraes said. The district will do what it intended to do before the rate increase, water its fields and expand and irrigate football and soccer fields at the junior high.

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"I need to understand what else the city would expect," Yahraes said.

Last month, the board told Yahraes to research drilling wells as an alternative to using city water to irrigate its fields.

In the meantime, city officials have discussed banning new wells, Yahraes said, noting that City Manager Ray Towry told him the discussion started prior to the board discussion on it last month.

"I'm not sure the city can tell a School District whether they can drill a well or not," said Gourley, a board member who served on the City Council for more than two decades. His wife, Lisa Gourley, is a city councilor.

"It's my understanding it's a property owner's right," Yahraes said, and it's regulated by the state, not cities.

Reynolds asked Yahraes how much time the district administration was spending on this issue.

His feeling, he said, is that it's just not worth it to continue the discussion.

"The devil could be in the details," Yahraes said. With subcommittees and two main boards working on it, "this is time, which is valuable as well."

Yahraes said he still sees drilling a well as a win-win, allowing the savings to be used on programs for students and cut treatment costs.

"It just makes no sense to water raw water instead of treated water," Yahraes said.

Reynolds suggested that Yahraes drop it with the city and just move forward with drilling wells.

"If they're talking about banning drilling, obviously, they're seeing dollar figures," Van Eck said.

Redick said the district has a simple mandate, to educate children, not to provide park space for the city.

The fact the city wants the district to redirect money to park space instead is "somewhat offensive," Redick said. "When it does contribute to park space, we're happy to let that happen."

Keeney asked whether city officials explained the reason for the increase. Yahraes said the city manager did, but it's nuanced. Yahraes said he was offered a Power Point presentation to help explain it.

Keeney asked whether the city manager could come to a board meeting and explain why. Yahraes said he would invite him.

The issue is creating a rift between the city and district, Keeney said. "I'd like to think there's a mistake here."

"You guys are absolutely right," Gourley said. "You should have the city manager come and explain it to you. The savings should be used for children in this community."

n The board accepted the resignation of Duncan Tuomi, vocal music teacher. After three years in the district, Tuomi said he is returning to Portland to be close to family and follow the next steps in his education and career.

n Held the first reading of multiple policy updates covering staff-student-parent relations; harassment and bullying; graduation requirements; admission of non-resident students; and teen dating.


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