St. Helens School District school board gets update on construction projects

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - David Etchart, center, a consultant with HEERY International, updates the St. Helens School District board of directors during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 24, about the progress of bond-approved construction projects. The school district is expected to approve construction contracts next month.The St. Helens School District is less than a month away from selecting contractors to build a new alternative high school facility and middle school building.

During a St. Helens School District school board meeting Wednesday, Jan. 24, consultants working for the district on design and architectural plans for bond-approved construction projects updated the council on projected dates for the next steps in the process, including an upcoming board vote to approve a contractor.

Current projections, which were presented Wednesday night by David Etchart and Diana Keelser, both consultants with HEERY International, expect the projects to be finished by 2019. Columbia County Education Campus students would be in the building by January, while middle schoolers would be in their classrooms at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Before the work begins, however, the school district must approve construction contracts. Three companies — Todd Construction, Robinson Construction Co. and Triplett Wellman Contractors — are expected to submit bids for the district to review. Those companies represent three of five companies selected by the school district last sum-

mer during a prescreening process.

The school district is slated to review the submitted bids by mid-February and will vote on the lowest responsible bid by Feb. 24. The "lowest responsible bid" means a bid that comes in with the lowest cost figure, but also meets all of the districts requirements, Etchart explained.

Two ceremonial groundbreaking events are slated to take place in late February and late March. Exact dates and times for the events will be announced at a later date.

Precise construction dates for the two buildings are contingent upon receipt of building permits and the scheduling of a selected contractor.

The school board and consultants also briefly discussed upgrades to the high school's science labs and security entrances, which were also promised in the November 2016 bond campaign. Upgrades at the high school will vary depending on the cost to construct the CCEC and middle school facilities.

"I'm confident that's something we'll be able to do. To what extent will depend," Stockwell explained.

The district will likely have a better idea of what can be done at the high school after construction bids are completed.

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