School board opts to initially borrow $32 million for projects

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One proposed site for a new community center would be just north of the gym at Ruder Elementary.

The School District 6 Board Monday night decided to borrow $32 million immediately for its upcoming elementary school projects. Voters approved a little more than $37 million in bond authorizations for the projects, but the district decided to go with borrowing $32 million initially and then see how the bids come in next year.

If need be, it would borrow the additional funds.

The board also approved a General Contract/Construction Manager process for the remodel of Ruder Elementary School and the remodel of the junior high entrance, on the advice of Dow Powell, the school’s representative for the projects.

That method will allow work to start sooner on the remodel, as the architects can be designing details like plumbing and electrical systems while construction is underway. It’s also a more flexible way to complete a project. Rankin Elementary School in Kalispell was built under this method.

The plan is to hire a contractor for Ruder and the junior high by early February.

Design would be done in the spring and dirt would be moving at the school by June. The idea is the school would have a structure completed adjoining the two buildings by the time school starts in the fall. The other remodeling could continue while school is in session.

The fields project would be a separate contract, let in February, and would also start in the spring. Powell said he expects that project should be completed by next fall — it’s a basic earth moving-landscape project.

“Maybe have grass on those in September,” he said.

Gateway will come a bit later in the process. It will be built by the traditional design-build method, where the entire project is designed and then built.

It will take a bit longer to get through that process, so actual construction probably won’t start until October.

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