PROGRESS: Johnston Elementary School construction climbs toward completion

School Building Committee approves the purchase of 8-foot climbing wall, and more than $1.8M in new contracts

The Cranston Herald ·

Future elementary school students in Johnston will be shown how to climb to new heights at their new school, when it’s finished.

The Johnston School Building Committee recently approved the purchase of an 8-foot climbing wall, and more than $1.8 million in new contracts, as the construction site swirls toward completion.

The committee approved the latest list of contracts at the new school last month.

The project contracts may all be awarded by July, according to Justin Bernard, Senior Project Manager with Colliers Project Leaders, who presented the latest bid recommendations in mid-May, covering everything from the school’s new climbing wall to telescoping bleachers.

The first bid package involved “acoustical ceiling tiles” for the school.

Six bids were received. Bernard told the committee that H. Carr & Sons, of Providence, was the most qualified bidder, at $636,800.

“(There were) no alternates in this bid package,” Bernard explained. The company’s bid was also more than “$200,000 less than the 60% construction document budget. And, it’s over $150,000 less than the number two bidder.”

“H. Carr is a very qualified sub-contractor,” Bernard said. “And again, this was all scoped out … We’re very comfortable with presenting this number to the committee.”

School Building Committee Chairman Joseph Rotella has pointed out that the lion’s share of contracts connected to the project have been awarded to Ocean State firms.

“A Providence company,” Rotella said after hearing Bernard’s recommendation. “It’s another Rhode Island company, another Rhode Island business.”

“Unfortunately, this next one is not a Rhode Island business,” Bernard regretfully informed Rotella — not far away though. The next company to land a Johnston contract hailed from the Bay State — New England Interior Specialties, out of Norfolk, Massachusetts.

Since the cover letter for bidding was issued, Bernard said he had conversations with both the Johnston Athletic Department and the architect, and decided to recommend adding an alternate bid to install telescoping bleachers.

“Originally we wanted to hold on this, because we weren’t sure if the wrestling mats were going to fit in the gym with the telescoping bleachers,” Bernard explained. “We’ve now confirmed that the mats will in fact fit. So I think it’s money well spent to have the telescoping bleachers in the gym.”

Bernard recommended awarding the company the contract, with a base value of $1,162,360, with two alternate bid packages. The alternates included the manual retracting telescoping bleachers, for an additional $35,335, and an 8-foot climbing wall in the gym, “which is alternate number two, for $22,880.”

According to Bernard, with both alternates, the value of the contract for “specialties” comes to “just over $1.2 million.” And, “with the alternates, we’re still $27,000 under the 60% construction document budget,” Bernard told the school building committee. “And this value is also just over $263,000 less than the second bidder, including both alternates.”

Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. asked how many event-goers will be able to fit in the new bleachers. Bernard said it ranged around 100. School Committee Chairman Robert LaFazia said the number’s likely closer to 75. LaFazia said they had “hoped to fit more.”

Rotella asked how many more building contracts the committee would be considering before project completion.

Bernard said just one more round, later this month, would be likely.

“We should only be doing this one more time,” Bernard told the committee. “In June, at the regularly scheduled school building committee meeting, we will be presenting site concretes, millwork and casework, all the flooring, the painting, signage and window treatments, and then possibly, landscaping and site improvements.

The last category may possibly be bumped to the next meeting.

“Landscaping and site improvements may be the only one that drags out,” Bernard explained. That contract may stretch into July prior to finalization.

So far, the project has been shattering budgetary expectations.

“Overall, the project is doing extremely well as it relates to the original budget,” Bernard said in March when the committee awarded around $40 million in elementary school contracts. “I can’t stress enough that we’re very lucky that we’re on to construction now. We’re going to have some difficulties, and we’re looking at the high school next year.”

The town still hopes to build a new Johnston High School. Current plans call for maintaining the high school’s gymnasium, and constructing a new high school between the indoor gym and the football field (then razing the rest of the old high school).

This story was originally posted by The Cranston Herald. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.