North Sanpete School board awards contract for expansions
By Suzanne Dean
MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School Board has awarded a $1.3 million contract for design and construction of additions to North Sanpete High School and Spring City Elementary.
The school board awarded the contract to Paulsen Construction of Spring City, the same firm that restored the historic Spring City School. The decision came toward the end of a five-hour meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
The addition at the high school is for a 3,200-square-foot music facility, with 20 to 30-foot ceilings, on the east end of the present school just beyond the auditorium.
The music center will include a main room large enough for 120 band or choir students, two “ensemble” rooms for smaller student groups and five practice rooms. The facility will also have a storage room for percussion instruments, a loft for storage of other instruments and a teacher’s office with extensive shelving for sheet music.
Superintendent Sam Ray said Tim Kidder, the music instructor who has been at the school for about 10 years, has expanded the number of music courses and number of students to the point where the program doesn’t begin to fit in the present space.
“The band room was built for about half the students we now have,” Ray said in an interview.
While most high school teachers teach six classes per day, Kidder is teaching seven, Ray said, including general band, jazz band, percussion, guitar, girls’ chorus, concert choir and even a class on the history of rock ‘n roll.
Concentrating nearly 50 band players in the present band room, with ceilings that are 10-15 feet high, creates noise levels that threaten hearing, the superintendent said.
“It can be detrimental to the students and even more detrimental to the band director,” he said.
The addition at Spring City will add two classrooms on the west end of the school, eliminating a portable classroom.
Ray said in the mid-1980s, when the district bonded for the high school and Spring City Elementary, it ran out of money.
“So they left two classrooms off…and put up a portable, and it’s been there ever since,” he said.
The original plan called for eight classrooms, plus a kindergarten room, gym, library and office.
The school ended up with six classrooms, plus a kindergarten room and the portable outside, along with the library, gym and office.
The school has had to convert one of the six classrooms to a special-ed room. It divided another classroom in half to set up a computer lab. So there are now four and a half regular classrooms in the building, plus the portable, Ray said.
The school is quite crowded, he said. Next year, there will be 34 students in the fifth grade, which has been using the portable. There’s barely space for 34 desks, he said.
Another key concern is what would happen if there was a lockdown, Ray said. Children in the portable would be isolated from the rest of the school without access to restrooms or food.
In December 2018, the school put out a request-for-proposal containing conceptual plans for the two additions.
Ten contractors came to an informational meeting, but only Paulsen submitted a proposal.
The district is using a “design-build” model for the projects. Rather than hiring an architect to design the buildings, and contractors bidding based on the design and materials specified, the contractor will hire the architect, and the two parties will work together to contain costs, Ray told the school board.
Paulsen’s bid of $1.3 million was above the district target. But Ray told the school board a staff group in the district had identified $95,000 in potential cuts. The biggest savings would be not attempting to match the brick of the original buildings, both of which are over 30 years old.
“We talked about finish materials such as metal, stucco or a vinyl wrap,” Ray told the board.
Rich Brotherson, a board member, wondered if the district should hire an architect, get a design and re-bid the project.
“I’m concerned that the project could take most of our capital budget, and if something went south on us, it wouldn’t be a good thing,” he said.
Ray said if the district postponed the two additions, costs would continue to rise over time. And Darin Johansen, the business administrator, said that if needed, the district could pull up to $500,000 out of two savings accounts other than the capital improvements fund.