FARMINGTON -- Farmington's plan to build onto the junior high school and expand Folsom and Williams elementary schools has jumped in price by more than $3 million, from $9.5 million to $12.96 million, according to Tyson Reimer, senior project manager with Kinco Constructors.
Reimer gave the news to Farmington School Board at its Aug. 23 meeting.
With 30% of the design plans finished, the firm estimates the junior high addition will cost $9.5 million; the Williams' expansion, $1.7 million; and Folsom's expansion, $1.74 million.
The district plans to add to the junior high school in two locations: a two-story building at the location of the former old high school gym and a second addition at the site of the old "H" Hall.
The district also plans to add six classrooms and bathrooms to Folsom and Williams.
Reimer said Kinco and Hight Jackson Associates, architects for the projects, are looking for ways to reduce the cost by $800,000 to $1 million, at the request of Superintendent Jon Laffoon.
Reimer told board members the construction industry has seen costs increase by 25-30% over the past six months to one year.
"That's what we're seeing today," Reimer said, based on the estimated budget for the Farmington projects a year ago.
He said raw steel costs are increasing around 5% per week. Another issue that has to be monitored, he said, is the lead time for such items as HVAC systems. Reimer said the company will work on these items to make sure the products meet the construction timelines.
Reimer said the new estimated cost of $12.97 million is based on what the company believes prices will be when bids are opened in November.
"We're going to put our heads together to see what we can come up with," said Mark Haguewood with Hight Jackson, who also attended the board meeting to talk about the construction projects.
Haguewood said he wants to keep the integrity of the design but will look at changing some of the materials to save money. The firms already had decided to combine all of the construction projects and kick them off at the same time to reduce overhead costs.
The elementary additions are scheduled to be ready for fall 2022, and the junior high additions are scheduled to be ready in January 2023.
Haguewood said the school cannot reduce the square footage of the additions because of requirements from the Arkansas Department of Education.
"We will try to find other avenues that will work," Haguewood said.
Laffoon said the district has around $12 million in its building fund.
"We're still a little bit short," Laffoon said, noting the district needs to keep a balance in the fund because it is looking for land for a new elementary school that is scheduled to open for the 2024-25 school year.
He said he hopes the two firms can come up with some savings, and the board does not have to make any hard decisions.
Laffoon said Farmington's student enrollment continues to grow, and the additions are needed for that growth. The district ended the 2020-21 school year with an enrollment of 2,567 and started the new year with 2,645 registered students.
In other action Aug. 23, the school board approved a resolution for a $2.5 million second lien bond issue that will be used to help pay for a $3.8 million energy savings performance contract with Entegrity Energy Partners.
The resolution authorizes Stephens Inc., to file an application with the State Board of Education to issue the bonds.
Jason Holsclaw with Stephens said the bonds will be secured by the savings the school is guaranteed to receive from its contract with Entegrity.
"We're comfortable with this financing," Holsclaw told board members.
The board approved the energy savings performance contract at its May 24 meeting. After the energy projects are implemented, the district is guaranteed to save $282,000 in annual costs. If the savings are not met, the provider will write a check to the district for the difference.
Energy projects will include LED lighting across the district, two solar arrays, HVAC replacements, smart thermostats, water conservation measures on fixtures and a generation to provide emergency server back-up. The contract also includes stadium lighting at the new track.
Holsclaw said Stephens projects the district should be able to sell the bonds for an estimated 2.15% interest rate. The annual debt payment for the 20-year loan will be around $155,000 to $160,000.
With the guaranteed savings, the district will be able to make the bond payment and still have savings for other needs, Holsclaw said.
Laffoon said the district will use proceeds from the second-lien bond issue and federal covid-relief funds to pay for the energy contract. The federal money can be used for HVAC and other air quality projects.
In other action, Farmington School Board:
• Appointed school nurse Audrey Eldridge as the district's point of contact for covid-19. The rate of pay will be $15 per hour until 40 hours are reached for the week and then the rate increases to $29.93 per hour.
• Approved a one-time payment of $1,500 for all school nurses for their assistance with contact tracing between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Appointed board President Travis Warren to serve as a regional director with the Arkansas School Boards Association.
• Approved the 2021-22 school budget.
• Approved personnel actions, including Jean Hoffheimer, 7th grade English; Jessica Ims, junior high counselor; Ashton Gajevsky, elementary gifted and talented; Katherine Nickle from gifted and talented to high school art.