Construction issues discussed at special School Dist. 4 meeting

By JESSICA ROBINSON

Big Horn County School District No. 4 held a special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 27 to discuss some issues with the construction of the new schools with MOA Architects.

The issues discussed included the covered walkway, safety fencing, and the size of the middle school locker rooms.

“We’re pretty disappointed with the covered walkway and the middle school lockers and the safety fence,” said Chairman Heath Hopkin.

They started the discussion with the covered walkway. Kevin Sullivan, project director of MOA, explained that they were fighting square footage and budget. The covered walkway could not be connected or enclosed due to fire code. He explained that they were left to come up with some type of cost-efficient structure that could provide a covered walkway from one building to another. He said that it was built higher than the design. 

Sullivan reported they are going through some solutions to maybe put a screen wall/metal panel wall on the west side to help with wind and snow. 

Board member Kristen Schlattmann asked if the solution included lowering the structure.

Sullivan replied they did look at that, but that right now it’s just a wall. They are modeling it on 3D to see what it would look like. He reported that it has to stay a covered walkway. 

In regards to time, John Gudger, an associate with MOA, said it would be pretty quick. He reported that GH Phipps got back with them. They are working with a sheet metal contractor. He said they provided a simple solution they think they could work with that’s going to be pretty easy. This solution includes some of the colors that are on the metal panels that are on the school right now. He reported he just needs to talk to the structural engineer and hoped to have a turnaround by the next week. 

Schlattmann asked what the cost would be to lower the structure. Clint Mosley with GH Phipps answered that it was over $20,000. He said a lot of the material has to be remade. They can’t use the deck panels because they would have to be cut and destroyed. He reported that it would’ve added another six weeks to the project. 

Board member Chris Kampbell said he never saw a design of that covered walkway while being on an executive committee. 

Sullivan reported they have documentation that they presented design drawings to the district for review all along the process and it was the same design that was out there. 

The next issue discussed was some of the safety fencing not being six feet tall in some areas including the playground area at Laura Irwin Elementary. Jessica Blanford with MOA Architects explained that they are going to take it up to six feet because the state has agreed to the change. 

She said they didn’t do that at first because during design, there was discussion about not wanting to make it feel like a prison. They wanted it to feel more public.

Supt. Dave Kerby reported they have had a six-foot fence around the current LIE. “It’s a safety fence,” he said. “To keep people out.” His concern was that it’s easy to grab a kid with a four-foot fence. 

The board was in agreement that the fence needed to be six feet. Blanford reported that all around the playground would be chain link fence. In between the schools up front, they are looking for something more decorative. 

The more heated discussion of the meeting involved the middle school locker rooms being too small in size. The concern involves the lockers not being big enough to fit football equipment and the room being too small for dressing out.

Sullivan explained they were originally designed as more P.E. lockers than for sports.

“Why would that come into play knowing full well you got a basketball court there, you got a football field. Everybody is going to play basketball and football,” said Hopkin.

Jack Mousseau, a project director with MOA who appeared by phone, said they went through programming meetings with the athletic representatives and district leadership and the P.E. program was what was determined to provide lockers for the middle school program. He added that was the direction they were given. He mentioned the limitation on square footage mandated
by the state meant there was no relief to add footage.

Supt. Kerby said that he wasn’t buying that. “You guys are professionals that build schools all across the country and you have to know they have P.E. and they also have sports,” he said to Mousseau. 

Kerby said the size of the room is 66 square feet. “Can you tell me that is going to meet our needs?” he asked Mousseau.

Mousseau replied that in terms of the middle school locker room and any direction to design specifically for football, that was not a requirement that was given to them. 

Three design options of an addition were presented to the board to solve the issue. The board picked two of the options to consider. Pricing is being researched and will be voted on at the next board meeting in September.

In other business, there was discussion on the future refurbishment of the track on whether to do a change order for GH Phipps to do the work or to treat it as a new project. Mosley told the board they don’t need a general contractor to do the work. 

Kerby reported that LIE is slated for demolition. There was discussion on the move-in dates to the new school. The possible dates for move-in are Oct. 25 to Oct. 28. Owners Rep Tom Farrens advised setting a date for the grand opening.

There was discussion on the upcoming homecoming events. The board approved to pay $200 each to the freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes for their parade floats. 

The board approved hiring Jaimie Lee as an assistant middle school volleyball coach and Roxanne Peterson as middle school para-educator.  

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