Primary School HVAC project and remodel moves forward

STAFF PHOTO BY MATT BUNKE The Watertown-Mayer School Board is considering options for a remodeling project designed to keep the Primary School operational for at least the next 15 years.The Watertown-Mayer School board gave final approval last week to a Primary School remodeling project that has been under consideration for much of the last year.

The bulk of the nearly $4 million project will include the replacement of the school’s HVAC system. Other portions of the project will include a new roof, lighting improvements, flooring and ceiling improvements, the enlargement of the cafeteria area, and the consolidation of the school’s numerous offices into a central location near the entrance. The project is designed to keep the aging school operational for the next 15 to 20 years so the district can avoid any costlier building projects during that time.

The district chose Project One Construction’s bid to complete the project. Project One actually came back with the third lowest bid originally, but the lowest two bidders asked to rescind their bids after they discovered calculation errors involving a subcontractor. Those two bidders said their bid was too low to absorb the error, but Project One said they would be able to absorb that miscalculation.

The new HVAC project, which accounts for $2,647,000 of the $3,920,096 project, will include a new induction air system and make use of the boilers that were not functional in the high school system. The primary school’s new system is expected to help eliminate moisture and mold problems that have become problematic during the summer months in recent years, and improve air quality throughout the building.

The total bid for the project came back at about $4.2 million, a project that would have included repairs to the elementary school roof and the entire roof of the primary school. However, the elementary portion was eliminated and work on the primary school roof was scaled back in order to get the project under $4 million.

The total for the roofing projects at both schools would have been $860,000. However, by waiting to finish the repairs at the elementary school and paying for only portions of the primary school roof, that cost was reduced to $493,640.

While the district will only pay to replace the western, southern and eastern portions of the roof at the primary school this year, McPhillips Brothers Roofing offered to do the remaining work this year as well, but wait until next year to bill the district, interest free, for the remainder of the work.

Inside the school, there will be noticeable cosmetic improvements as well. The flooring on the northern side of the building that was torn up during a recent asbestos removal project will be replaced, and walls and ceilings will also be repaired. One of the walls of the cafeteria will also be partially removed so the cafeteria can be expanded into the room next door. That enlargement is designed to accommodate the first grade, which will likely be moved from the elementary school to the primary school within the next several years to create more space at the crowded elementary school.

The most significant cosmetic change inside the primary school building, however, will be the renovation of what is currently the media center into a centralized office that will be the home not just for primary school office staff, but also the special education department, Community Education, and several other district departments. That transition will be done in part out of convenience for staff, but also to improve security, one of the biggest concerns in the primary school building. It is expected that all visitors to the primary school during school hours will be funneled through the office before entering the building.

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