July 4, 2012 | Vol. 24 Edition 26

New school bond going to voters

Final price tag below $40 million backers say

Valdez voters will be asked October 2 whether or not the city should issue a bond to build a new middle school to replace the aging building housing Gilson Jr. High.

Source: City of Valdez
The drawing shows the proposed front of the new middle school building that was submitted by Bettisworth North, the firm contracted for architectural services for the project.

The board of education and city council in Valdez met in a joint work session Monday night to review architectural drawings that are 35 percent completed. The final price tag has come in at a cool $39,804,183. That is around $2.5 million less than cost estimates made last March.

“We will get reimbursed 60 percent of whatever the project cost,” Jacob Jensen, the district’s superintendent said.

If the bond is approved by voters, the state will pay 60 percent of the construction cost, an estimated $23,882,510. Valdez will be on the hook for $15,921,673.

“At $500 a square foot it adds up,” John Hozey, city manager, said during the work session.

The actual construction cost is estimated to be $30,326,329, with almost $9.5 million included for design, administration and a contingency component.

The new school – if approved by voters – will nearly double the amount of space currently allotted to the current junior high. The school will see a higher enrollment in the coming school year after the board of education voted to move the incoming sixth grade class to Gilson Jr. High, effectively turning the current facility into a middle school, well ahead of the looming new construction.

The old junior high school will be demolished and the new facility built in its place.

“It’s a separate facility adjacent to the high school,” Tracy Vanairsdale, the project manager for Bettisworth North Architects, told elected officials during the meeting.

Hozey said the facility will be the most energy efficient owned by the city, but will still consume twice the energy of the current school, mainly due to modern building requirements regarding air circulation and other amenities unavailable at the current location.

As designed, the new middle school roof will have a snow load rating 208 pounds per square foot, a heated walkway out front, a gym nearly double the current size – including a mat room for wresters and other sports, its own kitchen and a small playground, among other features.

If the bond is approved this October by voters, current estimates state the new school will be completed by December, 2014.

“There is no changing this number once its approved tonight,” Hozey told council and board members during the meeting. If a costly problem arises, amenities will have to be eliminated during construction, “The design will have to bend around that number.”

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