Contractor selected to build new elementary school

June 2, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah School Board members unanimously voted to accept a bid presented by Babbit Neuman Construction for a new elementary school at their May 27 board meeting. Babbit, of Steilacoom, had the lowest bid — a $14.36 million base bid — of eight general contractors who submitted applications for the project. Commercial Structures, of Burien, submitted the second lowest bid, about $15.2 million.

District officials, by state law, are required to award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

The bids were close because companies are looking for work, said Steve Crawford, director of capital projects for the district.

Babbit specializes in school construction, Crawford said, adding it has built two elementary schools in Federal Way and Spanaway High School for the Bethel School District.

“We have worked with them on several projects and they are a wonderful contractor to work with,” said Superintendent Steve Rasmussen, who worked with them at his previous school district, Franklin-Pierce.

District officials sent out a notice of intent May 28, which asks Babbit Neuman employees to file a contract and complete bond and insurance paperwork with the district by mid-June. Once that paperwork is in, district officials can issue a notice to proceed and Babbit can begin developing plans and site work.

The new school, temporarily called Elementary 15, is in the 20800 block of Southeast 20th Street near Pine Lake on the Sammamish Plateau. The school’s design and layout is similar to that of Grand Ridge and Newcastle elementary schools.

It will be a two-story building with 28 classrooms, a computer lab, music room, multipurpose room, gym and a resource room with an occupational and physical therapy room for special-needs students. The building will be built to achieve state Green Schools standards, which includes efficient use of building materials and energy saving technology.

The total project budget for Elementary 15 is $22.8 million; voters approved it in the 2006 construction bond.

Even though district officials are facing a budget gap of nearly $5.4 million, because of state funding cuts, they are still able to continue construction projects because money for those projects are paid for from the district’s capital budget.

The capital budget can only be used for new construction, remodels and purchasing new equipment. It can’t be used to pay for operational expenses, like teachers’ salaries or utilities expenses.

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