The Columbia Falls School Board Monday night approved hiring Swank Construction to remodel and build additions to Ruder Elementary School. Swank will also remodel the junior high entrance to make the school more secure.
Trustee Barb Riley voted against the measure, noting the district had problems with Swank back when it built the Canyon Elementary School years ago.
But other board members noted that Swank also built the junior high some 20 years ago, and itís proven to be a good building.
The district didnít have a whole lot of choice. Swank was the last contractor standing. The project first attracted several interested firms, but one-by-one they dropped out of the project or never really showed any interest in actually bidding, noted school construction representative Dow Powell.
Dick Anderson Construction was also interested in Ruder, but it dropped out about a day before the deadline, Powell noted.
The Ruder project is not a traditional design and build project. Itís a general contractor-construction manager project. The actual construction is expected to cost about $8.1 million. Under the contract, Swank also agreed to a guaranteed maximum price of $608,000 to manage the project.
This method of contracting allows the project to start sooner and makes it more flexible, as the project doesnít have to be completely designed before work actually begins.
The hope is to have the wing that joins the gym and the main school building done by this fall.
Separately, ball fields between Ruder and the junior high should see work next month Powell said. That will be a separate contract and Powell said he expects companies that specialize in earth moving to bid on that project, which is expected to cost just under $1 million.