Higher-than-anticipated construction costs have pushed the start of renovations at Hoquiam’s Lincoln Elementary School back a year. As a result, preschool and first- and second-grade students will be taking classes there during the 2019-20 school year after all, according to the school district.
A lack of bids has also pushed the roof replacement at Hoquiam High School back a year. That was supposed to begin this summer, but no one bid on the job. There must be a minimum of three competitive bids.
“A decision to postpone the Hoquiam High School roof and Lincoln Elementary remodel construction projects has been made after in-depth consultation with the District School Board, Long Range Facility Planning Committee and district staff,” read a statement from Hoquiam School Superintendent Mike Villarreal Thursday. “Lincoln Elementary School will remain open for the 2019-20 school year.”
Staff at Lincoln Elementary had already been prepping for the move. Preschoolers were to be sent to Emerson Elementary, first-graders to the business education building at Hoquiam High School, and third-graders to Central Elementary, for the 2019-20 school year.
Villarreal said a feasibility study done two years ago about improvements at Lincoln Elementary underestimated the amount of asbestos abatement that had to be done at the 48-year-old structure. He said flood construction requirements added to the cost increase, pushing it beyond the budget for the overhaul.
The district learned of these issues just last week, days prior to Hoquiam High School graduation. Villarreal said he met with the school board June 6, and again with the district’s Long Range Facility Planning Committee a few days later, before making the decision announce the delay in construction.
As for Lincoln, Villarreal said the district is “going back to the drawing board” to re-prioritize improvements there to keep the project within the scope of its budget. There is $9,657,720 for the project: $2.6 million from the school bond passed in November 2018 and another $7,057,720 in state money.
“We’re going to work on giving an updated plan for the scope of the improvements,” said Villarreal.
The additional money from the $6.8 million bond passed in 2018 — the funds were received the end of December 2018 — make up the $4.2 million needed for the high school roof replacement project.
The goal now is to begin construction on both projects at the completion of the 2019-20 school year.
“We considered starting construction before spring break (2020), but that would stretch construction over two school years,” said Villarreal.
KMB Architects is working on a new plan for the scope of improvements that can be done within the budget at Lincoln Elementary School. Once that is complete, the district will go back out for bids for both the Lincoln and high school projects in October and November, typically a more beneficial time of year to get bids.
As far as having Lincoln Elementary students attend classes there when there’s been so much talk about the need for asbestos abatement, Villarreal notes the asbestos in the building is enclosed and doesn’t pose a health risk.
Villarreal said “the safety of the students” factored into the decision for the construction delay, as was “providing the best learning environment for all students and ensuring fiscal responsibility during the construction process.”