During a Creston School Board special meeting Tuesday night, the board approved a bid of $1,787,000 from Breiholz Construction Company for construction of a tornado safe room at Creston Elementary/Middle School.
"That $1,787,000 does not include the finishes inside," said former Creston Superintendent Tim Hood. "We took those out, and we'll just have to do those per bid."
In April 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a grant of more than $2 million to Creston Community Schools to help with construction of two safe rooms on school district property.
At the time, the costs of the Creston projects were estimated at $1.44 million and $1.25 million.
Seventy-five percent of the building project is funded by FEMA, 10 percent by the state and 15 percent from the school district.
Payment of the project would come from capital projects and physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) funds.
The estimated costs for the inside finishes of the project are between $135,000 and $150,000.
"So much of that depends on what we finally choose as finishes," said Creston Business Manager Roy Stroud.
The elementary/middle school was estimated to be $214,000 over budget. The explanation was construction costs.
For the elementary/middle school safe room, it will cost the district $558,000. This will be higher than 15 percent.
Bids for the safe room at the high school came in over budget.
The original recommendation Hood had was for the board to reject all of the high-school safe room bids and direct the administration to work with Homeland Security/FEMA to redesign the project into classrooms.
Stroud said there's no specific answer for the bids coming in above budget at the high school.
"We've tried diligently to get to the bottom," he said. "Our architects are working with the contractors. They don't have a good explanation."
Stroud added, some reasons could be the access to the building and extended corridors.
"For our commitment, it was to spend $368,000. It's 419,000 above that," Stroud said about the high-school safe room. "So that room's almost $800,000. That would be our cost of that room."
Stroud said if the high school safe room is redesigned into classrooms, it will cost the district to get the redesign plans, not FEMA.
That cost is estimated at $100,000.
This is the second time the school district has gone through the bidding process for the safe rooms at the high school and elementary/middle school.
The bids for both safe rooms in the first bidding process were too high.
The bids from the second bidding process did come in lower, but reason is the inside finishes have been pulled from the design plans.
Safe rooms are designed to protect students, teachers and other nearby residents from severe storms that produce high winds and often-deadly tornadoes common to the state.
Tornado safe rooms are small fortresses built to withstand a missile projection of 15 pounds with a direct hit at 100 miles per hour. Wind forces of up to 250 miles per hour are able to be sustained by the structure. Steel doors are anchored to the structure, reinforced and built with durable multi-point lock systems keeping harm out.
One question the board had was a time limit on when the safe rooms have to be completed.
The time limit on when the project has to be done is March 2014, but Stroud said he's hoping for an extension.
The deadline is imposed by FEMA.
Board members determined both they and the public should view the situation positively by thinking the school district is getting a new gym at the elementary/middle school for $558,000.
"We just approved the cost of a track for that (amount)," said school-board member Sharon Snodgrass.
More to come
It was noted the reference checks done on Breiholz Construction Company came back positive.
Since Breiholz was the lowest bid for the high-school safe room, one idea was to negotiate with them to reduce costs.
The board approved contacting Breiholz to see if there's a possibility of reducing costs to less than $1.4 million, and if not, then reject all bids and work with Homeland Security/FEMA to redesign into classrooms.
"I assume as much time has been spent on this, it wouldn't serve us very well to not move forward," said school-board member Galen Zumbach.