Columbia school board approves change orders for Southwest Middle School project

The Columbia Board of Education approved to dip into a contingency budget Monday to continue work on the Southwest Middle School project. (Megan Sanchez/KRCG 13)

The Columbia Board of Education approved to take funds out of a contingency budget Monday to continue work on the Southwest Middle School project.

The board voted in June of 2017 to purchase land for this project. The new middle school is being built alongside Sinclair Road about a mile south of Mill Creek Elementary. The facility is set to open in 2020.

Board member and facilities committee member Jonathan Sessions said the main goal of summer is to keep construction projects on track for the district.

"It's all about what we do in our summertime, which, when you do not have students in the buildings, it's all about construction," he said.

Two change orders were approved for the Southwest Middle School project Monday - one for $61,701.39 and another for $170,615.20.

The first is for additional, unanticipated tree excavation that occurred. That total cost was $99,028.89, but the district was able to save $37,327.50 with that contractor on seeding and mulch work - evening the change order out to $61,701.39.

The second is due to the discovery of unsuitable soft soils at the building site. Workers had to remove this soil because of time constraints on the project.

"We're moving dirt out there," Sessions said. "When you start to move dirt, you start to find things. They found a little spot of dirt, a patch of dirt. It's a softer soil than they expected. When you're building a multi-story building, you want to make sure you're on sure-footing."

Sessions said this is what contingency budgets are for - unforeseen costs. He said these tend to come up more with renovation projects than new construction.

"It's much less common when you're building new construction," he said. "Your questions kind of come in the lay of the land, the geography, the dirt moving, the position, those kind of things."

"Where we really see probably a contingency come up to the edges is when we look at renovations."

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