Board hears building project budget update
Business Services Director of Sparta Area School District, Leah Hauser presented the school board with a construction budget update last week to go over the budget for the projects at Southside Elementary and Herrmann Elementary.
Hauser explained the district’s construction management firm, Market & Johnson, prepares a two to three page list of all the construction bids that came in and all of the other items that accumulate to the total budget of the project.
The budget breaks down all of the items that were competitively bid and also shows a performance bond, a construction contingency and the fees paid to Market & Johnson to manage the project.
The district had a $137,000 construction contingency, which is money that has not been ear marked for any particular thing but rather is to cover costs that come up throughout the project, whether it’s something that was overlooked or difficulties discovered throughout the process.
“If that money is not needed we can use it for other projects at Southside or the other projects that were on the referendum question, which includes Lawrence Lawson,” Hauser said.
Currently, the district has only used about $29,000 of that money on some of the HVAC units at Southside, leaving a significant portion of the money that has been untouched.
During a construction meeting with representatives from Market & Johnson last week, district administration discussed managing the construction contingency and being mindful that there are other projects the money can be used for, noting it does not all have to be used at Southside.
“We also discussed balancing the need to make timely approvals when things come up and the need to keep the board informed because our process of going to the committee before we go to the full board can take some time,” Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren said. “Every week that something sits to get board approval is a week that things don’t get done and that can grind a project to a halt.”
Board member James Rasmussen suggested if there was an individual proposal request of $10,000 or less, it could be approved by Hauser and Van Deuren together in order to avoid slowing the project down; any request between $10,000 and $50,000 could be approved by Van Deuren, Hauser and Rasmussen.
If the request cost over $50,000 there would need to be a special board meeting held in order for the full board to discuss and approve the proposal.
Hauser told the board she would provide a monthly, itemized report to board members so they can see how that construction contingency is being used.
The suggested decision process for proposal request approvals will first go to the committee at its next meeting for approval before it comes back to the full board for a final decision.