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CCA middle school expansion begins

Board approves construction bid, breaks ground
Lance Adkisson, operations manager for Bi-State Contracting; Rick Hergert, school board member; Steve Swenka, school board president; Ray Willoughby, district construction manager; Brad Fox, middle school principal; Tim Kuehl, district superintendent; Jody Bandy, middle school assistant principal and Keith Johnk, senior planner for Shive-Hattery at a ground breaking event Thursday, Aug. 7, for the middle school expansion in Tiffin. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader

TIFFIN– The board of directors for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) community school district approved a $14,817,729 bid from Bi-State Contractors to build an addition at the middle school in Tiffin. The board officially accepted the bid at its regular monthly meeting on July 23 at Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford.
Part of a $48 million bond issue approved by voters in February, this project is a two-story addition on the west side of the school. The 60,000 square-foot expansion will contain 24 classrooms, a new media center, new cafeteria and kitchen and the building’s administrative offices, while also serving as a new main entrance into the facility. An 8,000 square-foot addition will be built on the southeast side of the building to provide new, ADA-compliant locker rooms.
Prior to the board’s vote to accept the bid, Keith Johnk with Shive-Hattery informed the members five bids were received, and all were within 3-1/2 percent of each other. The bid amount includes two alternates: one for additional parking spaces, the other for lockers.
Also included in the bid package, but not paid through the bond issue, is the foundation for a separate 1,500 square-foot classroom on the north side of the existing middle school building. This room will be designed by and house students in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) program. ACE is a joint effort between Kirkwood Community College and area high schools to provide both high school and college credit to students pursuing a career in these fields.
Joe Greathouse, an assistant professor in the construction management program at Kirkwood, spearheaded an effort to bring a hands-on construction class to CCA in 2012 and is working in conjunction with area construction and engineering firms to bring the ACE program to CCA. Greathouse met with the board in April to lay out a proposal for the additional room. Students, under close tutelage from design professionals such as Johnk would design the structure. Then, licensed professionals would make whatever changes necessary to get what Johnk called, “a permit-able building.” Students from around Kirkwood’s seven-county area would then build the freestanding room under the supervision of professionals.
Once built, CCA students would use the room for a variety of technical and engineering classes. Students are to begin the design process this fall with the foundation to be poured sometime in April or May 2015.
Board members expressed concern and asked questions about including the ACE foundation in the bid; however Johnk explained that, “timing-wise, it makes sense for the contractor (Bi-State) to do it.”
Board President Steve Swenka acknowledged Johnk’s point, but said he would prefer to have the ACE building, which the board understood would be built primarily with donated materials, on a separate contract.
“It’s kind of not the original intent of the ACE project,” Swenka said, asking why Bi-State would be putting in the foundation instead of a local ready mix company. “This is unfolding in a different way than it was presented.
Board member Jim Seelman, who is also a concrete contractor, said, “the board has not been brought along (through the ACE development process).”
Johnk reminded the board that at the April meeting they expressed concerns about the size of the proposed structure– originally about the size of a small garage– and whether it would hold the multitude of programs suggested. He said site restrictions limited the design to 1,500 square feet, or almost double what was discussed. Johnk reiterated it was best to incorporate the foundation into the bid package as an alternate.
“Nothing says Joe (Greathouse) can’t talk to a concrete company, or Bi-State and get donations or a credit back (for the work),” said Johnk.
“This is a great project,” Seelman said, “but way out of the box for what a school does.” He emphasized the need to have the board kept in the loop as the program evolves. “I’m going to vote to approve,” he added, but also said he wanted Greathouse to come before the board to provide an update.
The board voted to approve the bid contract unanimously.
On Thursday, Aug. 7, a groundbreaking event was held at the middle school. Behind the assembled administrators, board members and others stood a mound of dirt sitting where the addition will be built. Dirt from the new elementary site on the east side of Tiffin was trucked to the middle school site where it was built up and compacted to preload the site. As Johnk explained, the weight of the dirt compacts the clay in the soil in an effort to prevent the building settling later. The preload dirt was to start being removed on Aug. 11.
The addition is to be completed in time for the 2015-2016 school year. Renovations on the existing part of the building will begin next summer, which means almost everything will be moved into the new addition for one year. Johnk was optimistic on the space available in the new addition even as Kuehl reminded him the enrollment for this fall was at 470 and counting.