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Central Elementary School proposed design

An architectural drawing of the new Central Elementary School.

Tuesday night, Helena's school board opened its first meeting of the 2018-19 school year with a poem and moment of recognition for the tragedy that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

Board members then moved on to a cost analysis of school construction projects underway at Bryant, Central and Jim Darcy elementary schools.

An additional $1.75 million in contingency funding was approved in July to cover increased costs associated with steel and building foundations and security implements. However, it was not allocated at that time. The board on Tuesday received a budget summary for each school with a guaranteed maximum price and construction contingency amounts.

Central has a guaranteed maximum construction amount of $15,966,709 and contingency amount of $550,000. Bryant’s maximum construction cost is $14,129,603 with a contingency of $500,000. Jim Darcy has a guaranteed maximum price of $14,744,544 and contingency amount of $556,944.

Each school’s maximum construction price was approved 7-0. However, the board will delay action on the individual contingency amounts until later in the construction process. 

Kalli Kind, facilities and transportation director for Helena Public Schools, informed the board that as things move along, costs for various steps on each project still are a bit speculative and may end up costing more or less than the amount listed due to unexpected changes.

“We can’t control changes after the bid,” Kind said.

For example, she said, if city building regulations require changes in a situation that isn’t apparent until something is uncovered, the changes must be done.

“Now we can see the facilities going up and this gives us great joy,” said Tyler Ream, district superintendent.

Ream was impressed with the efforts of the team, which resulted in 100 percent of the projects bid and 99 percent of the projects awarded.

The 1 percent holdout is for playground equipment. Awarding the bid will be held off until a decision is made based on individual needs per school.

Kind also reported during the meeting that the security measures put into place at other schools using approved construction funds operated smoothly during the first day of school.

She said all keyless doors were operational and functional and that security keys were working for teachers.

“Security projects are complete and working successfully,” she said. “This was a great learning curve.”

District personnel collaborate with law enforcement and fire on emergency response issues and making access easier in case of emergency. Exterior classrooms will get room number stickers on their windows so emergency responders can quickly find a room from outside the school. Police and fire officials also will have their key fobs programmed for 24-hour access to school buildings.

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