Ennis high school to move forward on $270,000 weight room contract

4-person custodial contract also approved

ENNIS – At a special meeting of the Ennis school board on May 24, the board approved moving forward with a $270,000 bid to expand the current weight room and add storage space at the high school, a project that would expand the building by 1,975 square feet.

Need for the project

At a previous board meeting, Superintendent Casey Klasna told the board that the weight room needed additional space, and storage space was required to remove football, track and other equipment from high school hallways.

“The fire marshal will be very happy about getting things out of the hallways,” Klasna told the board, describing the need for the project.

District clerk Ginger Martello said that some tables, chairs and other school gear could then be brought up out of the downstairs “dungeon” with some additional storage space.

Opening the bid

Klasna told the board that the district put this project out for bids and received only one response, from CS Structures of Bozeman. This bid was opened at the special meeting, and Lou Miller of CS Structures was on hand to answer questions, as was school architect Dave Grigsby.

The bid offered to complete the 1,975-square foot project in an 88-day period, shared a price breakdown of materials and labor and included a $50,000 bid bond as a bona fides. The bid would be valid for 30 days.

Klasna pointed out that elements of the bid request were not submitted by CS Structures, including company personnel information, past work, how long they’d been in business and references.

School board chairperson Kris Inman also wondered what other projects the company had done.

Miller said several things requested by the board were not in the “spec book” listing the school district’s requirements. He told the board CS Structures was currently owned by Levi Clark and had been in business for about 20 years. The company recently completed a number of major projects in Bozeman, including a recent $2 million remodel of a Bozeman hotel, work on the Jam Café, and a “good number” of other construction and remodeling efforts in the area.

“We are a credible commercial construction company,” Miller told the board.

Grigsby wondered about paying workers coming from Bozeman to do this work, and asked Miller if he’d taken this into account. Miller said paying workers $45 per hour, versus the $22 per hour they’d get in Bozeman, would account for travel. That made a big difference in his budgeting calculations, but he’d taken it into account.

Board Trustee Jennifer Rohrback wondered about CS Structure’s workforce. Miller said it was a good crew, primarily made up of masons. Any subcontractors CS structures would need for the school’s work had been contacted and were available for the project.

Inman also wondered about the $131 per square foot figure for plumbing and heating work in the bid. Usually, she said, this fell in the $75 – $100 range. Miller said the additional cost of bringing workers down from Bozeman upped this figure.

Klasna told the board he would recommend moving forward with the project bid – but only with certain stipulations: He wanted to check the company’s references, interview company personnel with Grigsby, and do additional checks on the company. He also suggested a board member sit in on these meetings.

Klasna also told the board the district has the money to do the project, with funds coming from year-end savings and other monies for enhancing opportunities for students.

“Time is of the essence here,” Klasna told the board. The hope would be to begin work by June 12 in order to have the project completed before students return in the fall.

Board Trustee Julie Funston volunteered to tour job sites, and although she was concerned that the bid was high, she said she understood the issues with trades workers coming down from Bozeman.

On a motion by Rohrback and Funston, the board approved moving ahead with the project under the provisions laid out by Klasna.

Other business

• New AD - the board approved hiring current Physical Education instructor Chris Hess as the district’s new athletic director.

Klasna pointed out how Hess had been one of two applicants under consideration, and lauded Hess’s 12-year coaching record, his serving as AD for Forsythe schools and his organization skills.

Funston wondered about Hess’s ability to control crowds. She said she’d like to see students and parents learn how the cheer “correctly” instead of “negative” cheering.

“I don’t mind a rowdy crowd,” said Funston, “so long as they are doing it the right way.”

Funston and Rohrback’s motion to approve Hess as AD was unanimously approved by the board.

• Approved allowing the town of Ennis to use the school parking lot for RV parking during the summer months..

• Approved the custodial contract for four employees for another year. Inman noted that the board should “keep the door open” to finding ways to reduce expenses with custodial services.

• Approved entering into negotiations with Martello for a new employment contract.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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