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School District Sorts Options To Address Shortfall

The White Salmon Valley School Board held a special meeting Wednesday night to decide what to do about a $51,600 shortfall between its transportation center construction budget and the low bid.

By SVERRE BAKKE

The Enterprise

The White Salmon Valley School Board held a special meetÿing Wednesday night to decide what to do about a $51,600 shortÿfall between its transportation and maintenance center construction budget and the low bid the district received April 26.

The meeting occurred after this week's edition of The Enterprise went to press.

But on Monday, Superintendent Dale Palmer indicated the school board would consider all of its options prior to deciding how to proceed with the project.

Options include paring the proÿject to reduce costs, taking the difference out of the district's genÿeral fund cash reserve, or a combiÿnation of the two.

"I think there are some areas (of the project) that can be cut back for the time being," he said, "and done at a later date, such as the fencing, which would save $30,000 right now. That's one option and I'm sure there are several others that (project architect) Arden Newbrook will propose on Wednesday."

Mathews Construction of Moses Lake submitted the low bid of

$1,270,000.

Nine other construction compaÿnies bid on the project. Pacific Northern Environmental of Longÿview put in the highest bid of $1,580,000.

None of the bids, as per requireÿments of the state's open bidding law, included sales tax, though sales tax will have to be factored in before the bid is awarded.

The Mathews bid, with 7 percent sales tax added, comes to $1,358,900. That's $51,600 over Newbrook's estimate of $1,307,300.

Newbrook projected the total cost of the project, including $208,000 for previously completed site work, at $1,515,300.

Should the school district get the $1 million-plus it's expecting this year in state financial assistance, the project's budget will be more than ample for building the project as currently designed.

But, if the state doesn't come up with funding this year, the school board will have to decide where to trim or add to the project to bring costs in line with the budget.

According to Palmer, the disÿtrict's project is the lowest priority on the state Office of

Superintendent of Public Instrucÿtion's construction list.

"The state's first priority is facilÿities for unhoused children," he said. "And right now there's more than $200 million worth of locally bonded school projects statewide waiting to be built."

Moreover, the district's project hasn't gotten final approval from the construction review division of the state superintendent's office.

That won't come until the district has settled the project's scope and budget, and filed the necessary paperwork with the state. Then the district will have to wait for the go-ahead to negotiate and award a contract.

Palmer said Newbrook will use the low bid from Mathews Conÿstruction -- as amended or otherÿwise -- to fill out the forms to be submitted to the state.

"We want to get the right figures down on paper as soon as we can. That's why we're trying to expedite the process by holding a special board meeting," Palmer explained.

The earliest the school board can expect to award the bid is mid-May. Once a contract has been negotiated and signed, however, the contractor can begin construction.

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