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Clear Creek Amana school board gives a nod to the pod

OXFORD– The Board of Directors of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district approved the plans and awarded the bid for a six-classroom addition, or pod, at the North Bend Elementary School in North Liberty at their Wednesday, Aug. 15, regular monthly meeting.
Keith Johnk with Shive-Hattery architecture and engineering reported on the Aug. 8 bid opening. Fifteen general contractors considered the project with 13 submitting bids. However, one contractor was late and thus disqualified. Of the 12 bids, Johnk was very pleased with what he saw.
“Our speculation that this was a great time (for the project) came true,” Johnk said of the contractors’ response. The bids, he said, were all within 10 percent of each other with the low bid at five percent under the estimated cost, and the bid only 10 percent over.
The Tricon Construction Group out of Dubuque was the low bidder, submitting a bid of $2,093,600, which includes a $9,600 alternate for canopies over the windows and doors on the south side of the building. Johnk explained the canopies are needed to protect the windows and powered handicap accessible doors against the effects of heavy rains. In addition, the canopies will also help with cooling the building between May and October when the sun beats down on the south side. “It’s a very good price for them,” Johnk said.
Johnk had praise for Tricon, saying Shive-Hattery has worked with them in the past and said, “we’ve had a good experience with them.”
The project will be paid for entirely by a new series of revenue bonds sold earlier in the day through Piper Jaffray. Tim Oswald of Piper Jaffray told the board $2,625,000 in Series 2012 bonds was sold to high bidder D.A. Davidson & Co. of Denver, Colorado. The bonds will be financed through 2030 and repaid through School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax revenue, not through raising the levy on district property owners.
Oswald said the money generated by the bond sale must go to the North Bend addition. However, should there be a surplus, it would have to go to other projects on the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) list, or to any lawful school infrastructure project.
A public hearing was held for discussion of the plans, specifications, and estimated cost of the project, but nobody came forward. The project, on which construction will begin soon, adds six classrooms and a few miscellaneous rooms such as a janitorial closet and mechanical room. The school opened in 2008 and has reached capacity. However, even with the new rooms, it is anticipated the school will still be full.
District superintendent Dr. Denise Schares gave a brief enrollment update at the meeting, noting district enrollment is currently 1,928 students, up from last year’s certified enrollment of 1,786. The numbers will continue to climb with the official count day coming up Oct. 1.
At North Bend, which has every available space being utilized for makeshift classrooms, 42 more students than last year were already enrolled. The Middle School in Tiffin was up 32 over last year, as was the High School. Schares’ figures put the Middle School at 392 students, and 540 at the high school. Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford was up by 40 and Principal Dan Dvorak has already taken steps to accommodate the influx. A fourth section was added for first graders, and additional classrooms were fashioned out of a conference room and a partitioned space in the library.
The wave of students is expected to continue, with approximately 180 kindergartners district-wide currently. Dvorak estimates that kindergarten numbers could swell to more than 200 by the time they reach the high school.