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School building project moves forward


school frontThe Gettysburg School Board met on Wednesday, Sept. 11 for their regular meeting, which was rescheduled due to homecoming activities.
The main topic on the agenda was discussion of the new school building project.
The meeting was turned over to Dean Marske of HKG Architects, who said the bids came in substantially over budget, with the lowest going to Sharpe Enterprises. The contractor came up with items to bring the project within budget, with the three major items being a switch to steel building construction, eliminating the locker rooms, and eliminating geothermal.
Marske stressed that the changes would still keep the finishes very durable to maintain the quality of the building.
Mike Jones from Sharpe Enterprises addressed the board, thanking them for the opportunity to meet and bid the project, and said his firm has a good working relationship with HKG from working on the Ft. Pierre school and they understand the high level of quality expected.
He went through some of the differences from the original design. The entrance to the school will stay the same as originally planned, but some changes will take place on the outside south end and east side of the building, where steel rather than brick will be on the top portion of the building. The siding will provide continuity all around the buildings.
The structure will be a pre-engineered metal building, with the same appearance of the brick and block finish on the outside.
The locker rooms were removed from the contract at this time in order to get to the $6.6 million number. Square foot costs were reviewed and explained. The project was originally bid at $7,550,000, which was at $142 per square foot. Jones said it is hard to build a simple house for under $120 a square foot, “so in the reality of $142, it’s not bad.” He added that the project has nearly $420,000 of amenity furnishings, such as fold up tables in the commons area, carpeting, cabinetry, which are all included in the $6.6 million bid, which is $128.42 per square foot. “So value wise, we haven’t changed much as far as finishes inside your building,” he said, adding that a lot of time has been spent since the bid opening to get the project within the school’s budget.
There was also discussion of using the relatively new existing boilers, instead of the geothermal, which would save costs but lose a little in efficiency.
The board was told that the locker rooms are part of a later phase in the project so could be added toward the end. Other changes could be given during the construction in a change-order format.
Marske said that it is the same building and plan, with the quality of materials and the classroom wing being virtually the same. He said that the building will meet all the codes, security, and alarm systems. No classroom or gymnasium space will change, and while there will be some changes with the locker rooms, Marske did not believe that to be a substantial change and the goal will be to get those in during a later phase in the project. All the improvements will be included.
Board president Matt Cronin said that some changes may be needed, but he wanted to make sure there would be no additional charge with the architects for change orders.
It was suggested by the contractor to take out some portions of a later phase in the project with the gymnasium that would cut $200,000 from the start of the project and could be added later. That would get the construction started with the $6.4 million contract.
The board moved to accept the bid of roughly $6.4 million, subject to review of contract.
In other agenda items, the board did not feel that money was available to move forward with the building of a bus barn. The school was paying $3,600 annually in past years for rental space for the bus. The three parties who expressed interest in providing a building for the bus will be given detailed directions, with more discussion at the next meeting.
Mill levies were set and the budget was approved.
The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14.
The minutes of the meeting are published on page 13 of this edition of the News. They are also available online at and
-Molly McRoberts

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