Carl A. Nelson, DLR get contracts for Phase 1 school project


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison School Board voted 6-1 to go back to the same architectural firm that designed the Fort Madison Middle School in 2012 for the upcoming transitions of the middle school and high school.

At a special meeting held Monday night, the board voted to utilize DLR Group out of Des Moines for architectural services on the district’s upcoming facilities upgrades at the Fort Madison Middle School and Fort Madison High School. The board also voted to award Carl A. Nelson Co. the contract for construction management for the project.

The vote was 6-1 for DLR Group with Board President Dianne Hope opposing the move. The vote to award the contract to Carl A. Nelson was 5-1 with Hope again voting against the move. Board member Carol Ross abstained.

Prior to the vote, Hope gave a 10-minute presentation outlining the history of the district’s uphill battle to get facility upgrades specifically for PreK-3rd grade instruction, and pointed to a recommendation from the Fort Madison Community School District Director of Operations Nic Chiri to use Estes Construction and BLDD Architects for construction management and design.

“Do we side-step that recommendation,” Hope asked during her presentation.

Carl A. Nelson has the highest fee associated with the construction management bids at $666,000 compared to Estes’ bid of $450,500 and a bid from Schickedanz Construction of $570,000.

For the architectural services, BLDD had a bid of $1,655,000, while DLR came in at $1,562,500.

BLDD, out of Davenport, ushered in a new look through the leadership of an ad-hoc committee assembled by the district to review all the district facilities after four failed attempts to pass a bond to build a new PreK-3rd grade facility on the campus near the middle schools.

The firm was also contracted to evaluate all the district’s current facilities in 2020.

With state legislators extending the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) last year, district voters approved a required Revenue Purpose Statement in March, that will allow the district to leverage the one-cent sales tax through 2050.

Those funds combined with Physical Plant and Equipment Levy funds and other funds will pay for the estimated $25 million Phase 1 that will accommodate moving all 7th-12th grade students into the high school with added new construction, and the remaining Prek-6th grade students being moved into the Fort Madison Middle School campus with new construction.

The new construction on the middle school campus will include $15 million for a Prek-1st grade addition, a multi-purpose addition and a new commons space, along with additional transportation for ease of drop-off and pick-up. The high school work will include $10 million in initial improvement at the high school to allow for the additional two grades of students.

The board tabled Chiri’s recommendation for Estes and BLDD in April, and on Monday instead approved DLR citing the company’s past history in overseeing the construction of the middle school on a short-time frame, and already knowing the district’s facilities.

Mark Schickedanz, of Schickedanz Construction, who also bid on the work said most of his staff came up through the Fort Madison school system and also know the facilities very well.

In a related matter, the board also voted to approve contracts with Seither and Cherry for secure entry renovations at Lincoln and Richardson elementary schools at a combined cost of $186,500. The two buildings are planned to be retired at the start of the 2023 school year.

The Seither and Cherry bids were slightly higher than bids submitted by Schickedanz by about $2,100 combined. But Chiri recommended the Seither and Cherry bid due to time constraints on the project and wanting the work done prior to the start of school in August.

“Considering relevant factors besides cost, such as timeline, I recommend Seither and Cherry Company to perform work to be completed summer 2021 on the secure entry project at Richardson Elementary,” Chiri wrote in a memo to the board. He wrote the same memo regarding the Lincoln Elementary work.

“This is a crucial element with timeline of turnkey by school starting in August of 2021.”

The board then entered a closed session to evaluate Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater as well as held an exempt session to review a tentative agreement from last week’s negotiations with the Fort Madison Education Association.

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