by nathan oster
Big Horn County School District No. 3 employees spent the early part of this week moving boxes into the new middle school after the primary contractor, Sletten Construction, reached substantial completion of the project on Friday.
“We don’t have occupancy quite yet due to some delays with the sprinkler system in the old middle school gym, but we can still move in,” said Supt. Barry Bryant. The delay is due to a delay in the placement of the ceiling grid in the back room of the GMS Gym, which is being converted to a computer lab. Bryant said he expects the issue to be resolved and to get the “occupancy” green light within a couple of weeks.
He said the delay is a minor hang-up in what has been an otherwise smooth project.
“I’d say everything went well — especially when you consider we’re adding onto a 1936 building,” said Bryant. “While it’s 79 years old, that building is still in good shape.”
Some work remains. Kershner Construction was recently awarded the bid for the concrete pour on the south side of the GMS Gym, which is being converted into a pick-up and drop-off location for buses.
Bryant said that work has been put on hold until Sletten clears out.
Once it’s poured, it’ll require 21 days to properly solidify.
Meanwhile, Sletten now has 30 days to complete punchlist items on the new GMS.
Bryant said GMS teachers will be afforded opportunities after they come back to work in August to set up their rooms in the new building. “Usually they get a whole day, plus a couple of partial days during PD,” he said, referring to the professional development that typically occurs before students arrive for the first day of school.
By contract, substantial completion on the GMS Gym remodel must be reached by Aug. 15. Bryant said as long as that happens, the gym should be usable starting on the first day of school, which is Aug. 20.
The old GMS is also under construction, as the district is turning it into a central office that will house all administrative staff. Carpeting was being installed on Tuesday. Still to come is the cutting of an additional exit for the new board meeting room. Bryant said Aug. 10 is the contract’s substantial completion date.
All together, the work on the three fronts — new GMS, old GMS and GMS Gym — represents about $5.4 million in building improvements for the district.
Construction of the new GMS and the renovations to the GMS Gym represent the lion’s share of that total. All of that project’s $5.1 million cost is part of an appropriation approved by the School Facilities Commission.
The renovations to the old middle school ($279,000) and the parking lot project ($45,000) will come out of the district’s major maintenance account.
“A lot of people don’t understand what that is, but when we say something is a major maintenance project, we are talking about money the state gives us. We get about $400,000 a year and the only thing we can do with it is put it back into our buildings. The focus of that is upkeep — so we can continue to get the most out of our buildings.”