Construction work this summer at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum is essentially complete and was done at 14 percent under budget, the project engineer told the Blaine County School District board of trustees at their monthly meeting Tuesday evening.
Hailey engineer Brian Formusa, who was hired to oversee the project in January, told the board that carefully watching expenditures and doing much of the work internally resulted in a savings of about $350,000.
The project was originally budgeted at $2.25 million. Instead, Formusa said, the work was completed for about $1.9 million. The work was funded by a $59.8 million plant facilities levy approved by Blaine County voters in 2009.
The project involved drilling of geothermal heat-source wells, replacing an aged heating, ventilation and cooling system, improvements to the school lighting system, door retrofits, outside facility improvements and installation of a roof drainage system to prevent winter ice buildup on the east side of the building.
Formusa said a few finishing touches remain to be done, including some outdoor tasks, gutter work and building a new fence.
“All major work was substantially complete Aug. 19, allowing teachers two weeks of early classroom access,” Formusa said. “The systems are operational, tested and performing to expectations.”
Formusa further reported that the new heating, ventilation and cooling system provides a healthier environment for staff and students by quieter operation and “noticeably fresh indoor air quality.”
New construction approach
The hiring of Formusa to oversee the project is a departure from the way earlier construction work was handled under a contract with McKinstry Essention, a Seattle-based company that is now involved in multi-million-dollar litigation with the School District. Under the McKinstry contract, work was overseen by McKinstry engineers working under the direction of district Director of Buildings and Grounds Howard Royal.
Formusa promised the school board in March that the work would be run differently and for less cost than work done under the McKinstry contract.
“We’re managing it very close and tight from cradle to grave,” Formusa said then.
Formusa told the school board Tuesday that with the Hemingway project the district “essentially acted as its own general contractor.” He said the approach gave the district greater control on the project.
“The results were early completion, significant cost savings, excellent quality and a satisfied teaching staff,” Formusa said.
Not all the work that the district plans for Hemingway was included in the budget for this summer’s work. Left to be done are installation of new carpet, additional site improvements, new plumbing fixtures and further ice mitigation on the south side of the building.
Formusa told the school board that the district should also consider building a larger school lunch room.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org