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High school back on budget

After months adjusting timelines and reducing costs, Coupeville school officials could only wait to see if their efforts would keep the proposed high school project around its $15 million budget.

It looks like their work paid off. The Coupeville School Board will decide Monday whether to award Redmond-based Kassel Construction a $14.7 million contract to build the new 75,000-square-foot high school.

“We’re proud to say we’re under budget and on time,” said Gary Goltz, construction manager for the Coupeville School District.

The Coupeville School District received three bids from general contractors for the construction project. Kassel Construction was the lowest bidder. The two other bidders, Dawson Construction and Ebenal Construction, both based in Bellingham, came in at $15.08 million and $15.9 million.

School officials have had to change construction plans since voters approved a $22.8 million bond in 2004 after the inflation rate came in higher than expected. Officials planned for a 4-percent construction inflation rate, which was an average that had been an accurate number for 20 years, Goltz said. However, the inflation rate climbed to more than 10 percent which escalated the costs.

In response, school officials decided to delay other projects until state matching money became available.

With the delays, school officials weren’t sure about whether the bids would come in low enough.

“I was very nervous before the bid opening because so much is riding on it,” Goltz said.

With the bid on budget, Goltz said he can move forward with other projects in July, when the school district receives an estimated $2 million in state matching money. The next projects will be construction of an auxiliary gym next to the main gym, demolition of the old high school and construction of a plaza in its place. Goltz estimated it will all cost $3 million.

There are other projects school officials want to complete. The more notable include the covered playground at the elementary school and developing the field at the corner of Terry and Ebey roads into a park and athletic complex. That is needed to replace the baseball field that was removed to make room for the new high school.

Goltz wouldn’t speculate on when construction on those projects would take place. He will wait until the district receives matching money and he knows the actual costs involved with the second round of construction projects.

He said he is checking Kassel’s references and the school board is holding a special meeting Monday to award a contract. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Coupeville Elementary School Library.

Once the contract is awarded, Goltz said construction should begin the week of March 20 and be complete in the summer of 2007, which should provide enough time to be ready for the following school year.

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