Initially, the Plumas Unified School District board was working quickly to reconstruct Greensville High School gym by the time school starts Aug. 28.
However, by the time the board met on Aug. 2 to award contracts for the gym, they knew it wasn’t possible to get the gym finished in time.
The three trustees present, Traci Holt, Dave Keller and Dwight Pierson, decided there was time to gain additional assurances before awarding contracts; in particular for the approximately $2 million reconstruction of the gym.
Greenville High School gym
Pierson asked about the gym’s insulation. Keller, who coaches sports at the school, remarked that the insulation was poor. “If it’s hot outside, it’s hot; and if it’s cold outside, it’s cold.”
Pierson then asked, “How much does a brand new gym cost?” Keller responded, “In the old days, a steel-constructed gym, with good insulation, would have cost about $1 million dollars.”
Even without estimates for draining water away from the gym and some other costs, the estimated cost of reconstructing the existing gym was $1.4 million. With those expenses added, the cost would be closer to $2 million.
Holt added that reconstruction of the old gym might cost even more if additional problems became evident during demolition.
Pierson said the old gym is problematic in that it sits in a low area, which is what caused mold to build up under the structure and the floor to warp.
Pierson said that if they started from scratch with a new gym, they could either raise that area or build the new gym on higher ground.
If they started with a new gym, Pierson added, they could design the facility such that it could also serve as a civic center.
Pierson noted, “Demolishing something is much easier than abating it. You just call up someone to cart the material off to a licensed landfill for disposal.”
Pierson concluded, “We are not going to have the gym ready this fall. Before, we were panicking trying to get it ready. There is time now to look at all alternatives.”
Who wrote the specifications?
The board wanted assurance that the best materials and methods were being used to build or rebuild facilities.
Having an architect walk around the schools and make recommendations seemed essential to the board.
Pierson asked Daniel Malugani, Measure B contract manager, who wrote the specifications for the painting, flooring, abatement and remediation proposed for the gym.
Malugani said in some cases prospective contractors helped write the specifications. He noted that PUSD’s newly contracted architects weren’t on board at the time.
All three board members expressed their unease with signing off on any work on the gym, or elsewhere, where a potential contractor wrote the specifications. They wanted everything signed off by the district’s own architect or engineer.
Pierson added, “I’m struggling with this. We’ve had experience with construction projects in the past that weren’t done right.”
Pierson, with experience as a school superintendent, said of the gym, “I have never been on a project of this magnitude without [the district’s] architect’s or engineer’s review.”
Pierson also asked Malugani if the district had checked references for bid winners, including their last two to three jobs.
He also asked about how firm the contracts were. “We have learned from past experience,” he said, “that it is best to get control of the specifications and what is expected in contracts before those contracts are signed.”
At this point, Holt asked the two other members of the board: “I’m sensing you need more information?” To which Keller responded emphatically, “Yes, a lot more information.”
The architects are coming
The board decided to forego signing off on any contracts for any work being proposed for the gym until the district’s architect looked at the gym.
The board also asked district staff to ask the architect to look into how much a new gym would cost and whether a new gym made more sense in this situation, rather than perhaps putting good money after bad.
Those at the meeting speculated that a new steel-framed gym might cost $7 million, but no one present really knew.
Contracts for $234,000 to paint at C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School in Portola, Chester High School and Greenville High School were also up for approval at the Aug. 2 school board meeting. These too came under scrutiny.
Pierson said, “The biggest thing I hear from the community is ‘Please give some thought to what colors are used.’”
In regards to schools in her Chester-Lake Almanor district, Holt added, “I just don’t want the school to be a checkerboard of colors in there.”
Pierson noted too that there are different qualities of paint available in terms of durability, washability and cost.
He noted that unless potential bidders were told specifically what types of paint to use, they might substitute lesser products.
He also noted there were other areas where an architect’s knowledge and holistic vision for a school would help.
Again, the board decided to wait until the architects looked at the schools before deciding whether to award bids.
Where will PE classes be held at GHS?
Because the gym will not be ready for use by the beginning of the 2018 school year, Traci Cockerill, the principal of Greenville High School; the board and district staff addressed where PE classes will be held until the gym is back up and running.
The weight room is being permanently moved from the gym to classrooms 205-206, located close to the gym. That room will be rehabilitated for use as a weight room as soon as possible.
It was assumed that many of the PE classes could be held outside, except for those days when weather prevented it. Some PE classes could also take place in the weight room or the cafeteria when they can’t be held outside.
Cockerill was instructed to ask her PE teachers what facilities they needed ready by Aug 28 in order to hold their PE classes.
The board was told that PE equipment that was previously stored in the gym will be thoroughly cleaned before being given to students.