School board approves demolition plans

Mary A. Castillo

Despite receiving demolition and grading bids for both sites that went

over the targeted budgets, the school board with representatives of

McCarthy Construction Companies and LPA, Inc. voted to go forward with


the summer construction projects.

The urgency at Tuesday’s meeting was driven by concerns for student

safety while at the same time keeping a handle on budgets.

Specifically, the projects in question were the demolition and site


preparation for four new structures: the 4,177-square-foot kindergarten

and 9,024-square-foot classroom building at Top of the World; and a

16,495-square-foot, state-of-the-art gymnasium and 6,932-square-foot

performing arts building called “the black box” at Thurston.

“The [bidding] process got time crunched,” acknowledged board member

Robert Whalen.

The demolition and earthwork bid for Top of the World came in at about

$187,000 compared to a $150,000 budget. Plumbing work was bid at $168,000


compared to a budget of $121,000.

Demolition, grading for the new buildings and an improved parking lot

at Thurston had been budgeted at $239,000. However, the demolition and

grading bid for building sites alone came in at $180,000, eating a large

part of the budget, said Carl Neuhausen, construction project manager for

the district.

“We’re not completely over the budget,” said Neuhausen. “But we need

to make adjustments to keep the entire project within budget.”


As board members grew visibly concerned, Whalen brought up the

impending fall construction that has yet to be bid.

“What is the game plan in case the fall bids are over budget?” he


Mark Mardoc, project manager from McCarthy Construction Companies

stood up to answer the question. He recommended a possible solution by

reducing the size of the gym and black box theatre at Thurston, and

decreasing the number of classrooms at Top of the World.

He also advocated the cost effectiveness of combining the summer and

fall work into one complete project.

Summer demolition is scheduled to be completed in August and the

construction of new buildings and improved parking areas are set to begin

in late October or early November.

“I don’t recommend the hiatus because it’s not efficient,” he

explained. “You’ll be paying for dust and erosion control and fencing

when nothing is being done.”

However, he stressed that demolition work performed during school

would not only be disruptive to classes but possibly hazardous.

Board member El Hathaway asked Chris Duddy, principal at Thurston to

weigh in his feelings.

“I’d rather do it right the first time so we don’t have to do it

again,” he said. “The construction will be disruptive to students but

demolition won’t be safe when kids are out at P.E.”

In the end the board voted to go forward with the demolition plans.

“At the heart of the matter for me are the kids and parents,” said

Hathaway. “We don’t have any choice but to proceed with work this


“I think they made the right choice,” Neuhausen said.

Since they will not go ahead with the complete scope of work -- namely

the improved parking lots -- he will ask contractors to consider

re-pricing their bids before the contracts are signed.

Improvements on the parking lots will be combined with the fall

construction project and re-bid, he said.

The summer projects are expected to get underway the third week of