Central School Demolition sign

Signs notify the public that the demolition process is starting at Central School. The school is slated to be demolished and rebuilt as part of a $63 million bond passed in May, but was delayed by a lawsuit.

Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

Helena Public Schools selected Bullock Construction Services Thursday to demolish Central School.

During a special meeting, the board of trustees accepted Superintendent Jack Copps' recommendation to select the lowest of five bids at $115,775.

“The reason for the lesser amount is that this contractor intends to recycle 90 percent of the building,” Copps said.

Central, Bryant and Jim Darcy schools are slated to be demolished and rebuilt as part of a $63 million bond passed in May.

The Central demolition has been a school district priority after a lawsuit delayed work on the building. The lawsuit was recently dismissed. 

Bullock Construction Services, based in Boulder, will begin demolition as soon as the district finishes asbestos abatement. The contract states Bullock Construction will be finished by Oct. 2. The district is in the process of securing the entire perimeter of the block with fencing to make sure no one trespasses during demolition.

Copps is the stepfather of Gov. Steve Bullock, but has no relation to Bullock Construction.

Before unanimously accepting the superintendent’s recommendation, the board asked if several historic pieces of the building and the playground equipment will be saved.

A committee has been formed to determine which historic parts of the building could be preserved, and members requested the district keep the Central School archway and incorporate it into the new building. Bullock Construction Services will provide the school with a second bid on whether it’s possible to save the archway and how much it would cost.

Assistant Superintendent Greg Upham said district officials haven't decided on a price they are willing to pay to keep the archway. 

Other requests by the committee will be honored, such as saving a bell, classroom doors, water fountains and some pieces of granite. The committee asked the district to preserve the school's maple flooring, trim and national register of historic places sign, but those pieces didn’t make the final list.

Copps said the granite caps and stones will all be saved and the district will sell souvenir bricks from Central School to benefit either the Helena Education Foundation or the Angel Fund. The personalized bricks will also be saved.

“We charged the current Central School administrators to come up with an idea to implement the bricks within the new structure,” Copps said.

The board was concerned about Central’s playground equipment after some community organizations expressed interest in purchasing it. Copps said the district would be liable if they sold the equipment and it was unsafe after being reinstalled in a new location. Instead, the equipment will eventually be removed and discarded. 

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