The Barn will go up this year; the new track and artificial turf athletic field will have to wait.

The Vinton-Shellsburg School Board took action on the year's two big capital projects during Monday's meeting, approving the bid for the Ag Learning Lab, but delaying action on the athletic project until next year.

The Barn

The board reviewed fivenbids for the Ag Learning Lab, and accepted the $260,000 bid (plus $4585 for air conditioning) from Dan's Custom Homes of Anamosa.

All five bids were higher than expected but paying the extra is necessary to "adequately serve our students this fall," said Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock. The board had earlier approved $100,000 for the project, but now agreed to increase that to $135,000. Fund-raising efforts, sponsorships and donations will cover the rest of the project.

The district sent out 30 bid packets to contractors and received five bids, ranging from $260,000 to $363,900; the top four bids ranged from $260,000 to $288,000. Previous projects by the company include the press box for the Anamosa athletic complex.

The facility will be a classroom “all day, every day,” said the Superintendent, adding that she believed it will become the primary learning space for the VS agriculture programs. The program is planning to hire a half-time instructor for next year.

4-H groups and other agricultural organizations may be using the facility during non-school hours.

Rob Levis made the motion to award the contract to Dan's Custom Homes; the board unanimously agreed.

The project is expected to be completed in time for classes to begin in August; Ag teacher Louise Fleming said an open house date will be set to allow the public to see the building when it is finished.

Only 1 bid for track/field project; board rejects it

The district received just one bid for the project which includes resurfacing the track and installation of an artificial turf for football, soccer and other sports.

John Pope of the Minnesota-based I & S group told the board that his company has advertised in many places, but only one contractor, Midest Field Turf, submitted a bid.

Pope said that he had asked some contractors why they chose not to bid; one reason they cited was that such projects work better as a fall project; contractor schedules were full.

But the athletic schedule for both high school football on Friday nights – as well as many other VS sports team events – would make a fall project difficult to arrange.

The total estimate for the track resurfacing was $517,800; that amount was $135,000 above what the district had been expecting bids to be.

The board discussed several options, including some temporary patching on part of the facility, particularly the long jump track.

Pope said he believed the track would be safe one more season, but would not recommend waiting longer than one more year.

The architect told the board that while there is no guarantee that bids would be lower if the board decided to delay the project, most bids accepted for similar other projects have come in closer to what V-S leaders had anticipated. Some bids in some districts have been lower than his company's estimates, said Pope.

“We underestimated the cost of the track project,” said Superintendent Hainstock, who added that waiting a year would allow the district to build more of the cost into the PPEL budget. Fund-raising, she said, may also benefit from more time

The bid for the turf came in at $616,000, which was $159,000 less than the expected bid of $775,000.

Football coach Joe Womochil told the board that so far, area businesses and residents have made pledges totaling approximately $125,000 toward the project.

“That is very good news,” said school board member Kathy Van Steenhuyse.

Coach Chvala asked if it was possible to do it as two separate projects, with one contractor handling the track and another the field turf; Pope said his company never bids that way because it can lead to pitfalls and conflicts.

Board member Mike Timmerans made the motion to reject the bid; the board agreed unanimously.

Activities Director Jim Struve and Hainstock will work with Pope on discussing potential temporary repairs to parts of the track.

“The feeling is, 'Let's do it right,'” said Board President Sue Gates.

Womochil told the board that they would not upset the football coach if they decided to do the track without installing the new turf at this time.

Struve asked if the board could guarantee that the track project would take place next year; the board's consensus is that it will take place. Hainstock said resurfacing the track will be “the highest priority.”

Hainstock also urged the coaching staff to be sure to clearly communicate with the donors so they know specifically how their donations would be utilized.

Timmermans said having one more year should help with fund-raising efforts.

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