Construction firms hear about Fort Smith school projects

by Tina Alvey Dale (tdale@talkbusiness.net) 742 views 

Fort Smith Public Schools held a contractor orientation Monday (April 8) to further explain upcoming construction projects in the district funded by a voter-approved millage increase.

“Pretty much since the millage passed, we’ve had people saying they want to see some dirt moving. We are ready to do that. We want you to have all the information,” said Dr. Terry Morawski, deputy superintendent.

Fort Smith voters approved a 5.558 millage increase for Fort Smith public schools in 2018. The new rate is expected to raise $120.822 million, $35 million of which will go toward district-wide safety improvements. Other noteworthy items to be funded with the millage is a new $13.724 million Career and Technology Center featuring specialized lab spaces and classrooms for courses in healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing and additions and improvements to both Northside and Southside high schools which will include new freshman academies and new gyms at both.

Construction projects discussed Monday included projects at Southside and Northside High School, Ramsey and Darby Junior High and Morrison Elementary School, along with security packages for several of the elementary schools.

The NHS project will include a 12-classroom freshman center addition, a new secure entry that will lead to new administration offices, a new competition gym with seating for 2,300 plus an integrated storm shelter, cafeteria renovation and more, said Jay Kirkpatrick, senior program manager at Hoar Program Management (HPM) of Dallas, the project manager hired by the school district.

The SHS project also will include a 12-classroom freshman center addition and new competition gym with seating for 2,300 and an integrated storm shelter, along with a new stand alone storm shelter, cafeteria renovation, media center renovation, new administrative office addition and possible South Gym renovation, Kirkpatrick said.

Both projects will have a construction manager at risk delivery model. The schematic designs are complete on both and design development on both is underway. The construction budgets are $29 million for NHS and $35 million for SHS.

The RFQ on the projects was issued April 5 with a response deadline of April 25. A short list of construction managers will be ready May 16-24, with interviews conducted the following week. A recommendation will go to the board by mid-June with construction beginning in the summer and being completed by spring 2021, Kirkpatrick said.

Darby Junior High School will have a new secure entry and administrative office renovation, interior renovations to classrooms and offices, a new cafeteria space and enclosures of exterior walkways and bridges. There is discussion of adding a new neighborhood clinic for use by students and residents in the area to the campus, Kirkpatrick said. It would also use a construction manager at risk delivery model and have an approximate construction budget of $7 million. The RFQ release date should be in January 2020.

Construction projects at Ramsey Junior High and Morrison Elementary will have a lowest responsible bidder delivery model, Kirkpatrick said.

“Local contractors should have a good shot at lowest responsible bidder,” Kirkpatrick. “Those go to the lowest bidder (who meet all qualifications and are bonded for the project), and if you’re local, you can usually keep your costs down to be able to give a lower bid.”

The more complex, larger projects will require a construction manager at risk. In these projects, the construction manager will be part coordinator and part contractor. They will work with designers and architects in pre-planning phases and then once all is determined, there will be a contract with a guaranteed max price, Kirkpatrick said.

“There will be a short list and then interviews. It’s at those interviews that someone can say, ‘I’ve done work at Northside, and things you have to look out for are…’ That will be very helpful to know and could help them,” Kirkpatrick said.

Ramsey’s construction project will include a new secure entry and administration office addition and renovations to existing office space and classrooms for an approximate budget of $2 million. Bid day will be Sept. 26. Morrison’s project will include renovation of the open concept classrooms to individual classrooms, an enclosed media center and a new secure entry for a cost of about $1.5 million. Bid day for Morrison will be May 16.

Bid day for Security Package 1, which will include Cavanaugh, Fairview, Spradling and Sunnymede elementary schools will be April 16. There is a mandatory pre-bid meeting April 9. That project will have an Aug. 7 completion date.

Information on all RFQ’s is available on this page of the district’s website.

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