COC sends recommendations on critical issues to LASD board

The Thursday meeting of the Construction Oversight Committee addressed action-items which the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees was scheduled to decide Monday (The Town Crier goes to press before the Monday meeting).

The bids on the Covington site provided the first positive indicator in many months. According to COC member Gary Walz, the fact that the district received eight "good tight bids indicated that they do reflect the marketplace as it is today."

The committee agreed the bids provided the datapoint they had wanted, but COC member Roger Menard expressed his concern that at approximately $11 million (including the new building) for Covington, "We're chipping away at the residual left for the rest of the elementary schools."

That is not the district's intention, according to Program Director Dave McNulty. Covington is expected to be the most expensive.

Superintendent Marge Gratiot agreed, "It is much bigger with 24 usable classrooms. For instance, Bullis has only eight."

COC member Stephanie Moore disagreed that the proposed new construction should be included. "We discussed no new building under the revised plan," Moore said. "If we go forward on this, what kind of commitment do we have that the money will be there for Springer, Oak, etc.?"

A recommendation to accept the bids passed 5-0 contingent on having money for the other schools.

Project Manager John McCormick presented two options for maintenance facility bids.

Negotiate with the low bidder in an attempt to cut costs either by value engineering the existing design or removing the offices (estimated net savings of about $90,000). Rebid the project with the risk that there might be limited contractor interest or the bids might be higher. This would delay the Covington schedule.

The COC voted 4-1 to recommend renegotiating.

The discussion of the Blach Camp School reopened debate on phased construction. The savings of not building a second portable camp school are measurable; $3,580,000 is the estimated cost. Offsetting costs of extending the timeline, conducting classes during construction, providing space for construction crews, etc., cannot be precisely determined. There are other "hidden costs," according to Walz. "For example, wiring. When they can't do everything at once, they have a tendency to try temporary solutions which then have to be redone."

The consensus was that this is a policy decision for the Board and not within the COC's scope.

The cost of the proposed locker building at Egan School has increased from $1,073,000, when bid as an addendum, to $1,155,625. Project Manager Cory Thomas offered an alternative - to rebid. This might produce a lower bid, but there is no guarantee and it is guaranteed to extend the Egan schedule. Walz asked what the cost would be to make the current facility livable? Thomas responded $80-90,000.

The COC submitted three alternatives: spend the million and complete Egan; hold for a redesign and rebid; or spend the minimum now and wait until the city completes the proposed gym on the campus and then reconsider a locker building.

The next COC meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25.

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