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School board sets a price for SEES work
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The upcoming renovations to South Effingham Elementary School will have a maximum price tag of nearly $3.5 million.

The Effingham County Board of Education on Wednesday approved a guaranteed maximum price of $3,426,600 submitted by the project’s construction manager, Pope Construction Company of Statesboro.

Pope’s accepted proposal includes a contingency allowance of $200,000, according to Slade Helmly, executive director of administrative services for the Effingham County School System.

“Hopefully that won’t have to be touched, but we always like to build those things in for unforeseen circumstances,” Helmly told the school board.

Pope Construction will have about two-and-a-half months to complete the renovations, between the May 23 last day of classes and the Aug. 6 start of the new school year. Board of Education Chairman Lamar Allen asked if Pope will have to pay financial penalties if the work is not completed on time.

“There are no repercussions for not having this ready when school begins,” Helmly said, “but everyone understands that we must have school.”

State money will cover $1.26 million of the project, according to Helmly. Under Georgia’s capital outlay formula, a school district accrues entitlement credit each year based on its enrollment growth and age of its school buildings.

The remaining funds — about $2.16 million — will come from special purpose local option sales tax for education (E-SPLOST) revenue. The school system has $5.5 million in its SPLOST coffers, accruing at $250,000 per month.

“So there’s five-and-a-half million dollars available to be drawn on for this exact purpose,” Helmly said.

The outside upgrades will be a new driveway and new parking lot, replacing the ash road that typically floods anytime it rains. Inside, the entire school will receive a facelift.

“When we end up, we’re basically going to have a new school,” Helmly said.

The project includes installing new floor coverings, ceiling tiles, insulation and kitchen equipment, renovating the student bathrooms, repainting all the walls, upgrading the lighting system and replacing major components of the heating and air conditioning system.

Also, the remodeled SEES will have two teacher work rooms and two conference rooms. The work rooms will include teacher restrooms.

“Currently the teachers use the same restrooms the children do, so that’s been a need for quite some time,” Helmly said.

Several local subcontractors will be involved in the renovations. All but one of the bids submitted by local subcontractors were the low bids for those portions of the project, Helmly said.

The only local bid not approved was for the electrical work, because it was about twice the amount of the accepted $438,000 bid.

“Certainly I don’t think we could recommend spending twice the amount of money just to go local,” Helmly said.

He added that all the subcontractors on the project have worked with Pope Construction at some point, “so they’re satisfied with the work that they’ve seen them do and the ability to get work done in a timely manner.”

The school board approved Pope’s plan 3-0, with board member Troy Alford unable to attend the meeting. However, Allen voiced skepticism that construction will be finished before the start of the 2014-15 school year.

“All I can say is, get to work,” he said.