EM still hoping to break ground on facilities upgrade project in 2022

The East Mills School District still hopes to break ground on its new $22 million facilities project this year despite initial bids coming in higher than expected.
Since narrowly passing its bond referendum in September 2021 to renovate the current high school-middle school into a consolidated pre-kindergarten through 12th grade building in Malvern, East Mills has been busy designing and developing the substantial project. Omaha-based firm Alley Poyner Macchietto is the project architect, while Boyd Jones will serve as the construction manager and Piper Sandler will handle the bond financing.
The district opened its bidding window on the project Aug. 22. When that window closed on Sept. 13, the initial bids on the project came in $2.5 million more than the district’s $22 million bond amount, according to East Mills Superintendent Tim Hood.
While those figures are not cause for panic, Hood said the district would take 60 days to either accept or deny the submitted bids.
“We’re in the process of figuring out which bid packages we’re going to approve and which ones we may have to re-bid,” Hood said, adding the hope is to have contracts in hand by mid-November.
“It’s multiple bid packages so there will be multiple different entities that we’ll deal with, but we’ll have 60 days whether to approve them or re-bid,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out how to move forward and give the project the best coverage we can.”
Hood said the district “had coverage on all of its packages,” so interest in the project was high, he added.
When asked if there will be time to break ground still this year, Hood replied, “That’s our hope.”
The planned $22 million renovation to the existing junior-senior high building includes a new addition consisting of classrooms, a gymnasium, a weight room, a common space, and secure entrances that would double the size of the current building. Upgrades to the building’s ADA accessibility and campus athletic fields, parking lots and site access would also be included.
The district also plans to convert its current elementary school campus (former Nishna Valley School), located along Highway 34 into a career and technical education center. The East Mills Regional Center for Career Technical Education will be a public and private partnership between the school district and multiple industry, business, education, corporate and non-profit entities.
Funding for the project will not be paid for with bond funds. Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2024.

The Red Oak Express

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