Timeline for school project given

Move-in for high school and middle school would start June 2020

The real work has begun for Greene County school administrators and the board of education on the design and construction of the new high school/regional career academy and repurposing of the current high school as a middle school.

Vicki Hyland of OPN Architects’ Cedar Rapids office and Ken Hagen of the firm’s Des Moines office met with the school board in a work session April 18.

Hagen will be the project architect. He explained timelines for design and construction. The plan allows middle school teachers and students to move at the same time as high school teachers and students.

Hyland and Hagen met with user groups – teachers, coaches, administrators, board members, members of the community and representatives of funders (Greene County supervisors of the career academy and Grow Greene County for the gymnasium and performing arts center) – last week. They were seeking more detailed information about building needs than they had last winter.

Schematic designs will be completed by June 30. Programming and design development for the new construction and the repurposing will be continue into the fall. Bid documents for the new construction will be available next February, and for the repurposing in March. “There some advantages to that. By bidding it as separate packages is that having this (the repurposing) as a smaller project it will encourage smaller contractors,” Hagen explained.

It’s possible some site preparation, including pouring the building pad and an access road may be done yet this fall. That would give some flexibility if there’s a late, wet spring, and the pad would go through a freeze-thaw cycle before construction begins on the building.

The disadvantage, Hagen said, comes if a different company does that pad than does the rest of the work. “If there’s any kind of an issue, it provides an opportunity for finger pointing…. It’s a calculated risk you take to make sure you don’t get delayed next April.”

Construction of the high school/career academy will start next March, soon after the bid is awarded. Construction is expected to take 15 months, with owner move-in slated for mid-June 2020. “That gives about eight weeks to get in the building and shake out the kinks because, inevitably, there will be kinks,” Hagen said. “There will be issues to solve or work out during that owner move-in time.”

The architects will identify what can be done on repurposing the current high school while it’s still in use, doing the work in two phases during the summers of 2019 and 2020.

Hyland talked about the preliminary work in the repurposing of the current high school, showing a schematic with smaller blocks representing the current middle school classrooms placed inside the current high school spaces they’ll move to. “It’s fun to have new construction and it’s fun to have new buildings…. But when we look at the blue boxes and see what they are now and how they get to grow, and what it will mean to those kids and the programs, this is really a heart-warming story for your community. We never want to look at this as a secondary project. This is a very important project and we want to give it its due,” Hyland said.

The board discussed the possibility of hiring an owner representative or a construction manager to oversee the project. A building rep serves as “eyes and ears” at the project. A construction manager coordinates projects that have many “moving parts.” Board member Sam Harding has served as an owner’s rep on school construction previously. He said the biggest benefit an owner’s rep can have is to make sure the project stays on schedule.

Superintendent Tim Christensen will talk with the steering committee for input prior to the next board meeting.

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