District to open bids on school projects May 10

Above are some architectural renderings of some of the work proposed for facility improvements in the Fort Madison school district. Images courtesy of Carl A. Nelson Co.


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison School board got an update on a $33 million facilities upgrade that is scheduled to begin this spring.

Over the last 11 months, DLR Group, the district’s architectural firm, and Carl A. Nelson Co., the construction manager, have engaged in visioning workshops with staff prior to the summer break and have since put together detailed drawings and construction schedules.

The work is scheduled to begin in June and to be completed by August of 2024.

Architects presented more than 300 pages of construction documents and specifications on the PreK-6 project at the current Fort Madison Middle School, and the 7th-12th grade project at Fort Madison High School.

Chris Smith, a vice president of construction with Carl A. Nelson, said the next four to six weeks will involve bidding the work out and finalizing contracts.

Drawings were sent to the print shop on April 13 and he said personal invitations to bid were sent to more than 600 firms.

“We’re trying to drum up a lot of interest on this project,” Smith said. “We will hold a pre-bid meeting on Thursday to give bidders a chance to walk the site and see what the scope entails and look at existing buildings.”

He said bids will be opened publicly on May 10th at the administration office and the next five days will be spent contacting low bidders to review bids and the scope of work. On May 16th, the school board is scheduled to hold a public hearing to review the bids and potentially approve the contract language.

“We’re hoping to start construction the first of June. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for,” Smith said.

He said roughly speaking the PreK-6th site would start in June and be wrapped up by the end of May 2024. The 7th-12th project will start with band and vocal facility upgrades in June and finish that by August of 2023. The administration addition at the high school is set to be done June through August of 2023. The addition will take place just to the left of the current entryway.

The 7th to 12th grade classroom work has been put off until a March 2023 projected start time. The high school gym/locker improvements are also set to begin next spring, while the interior renovations will begin in July of 2023.

Smith said from June of this year through March 2023, the drop-offs and entryways will be maintained so when school opens in the fall this year, there won’t be heavy construction going on in those areas to restrict functionality of the facility.

Construction at the high school will require relocation of the entrance in the spring of 2023. Plans tentatively include moving the entryway to the east side of the building temporarily during construction.

“That’s where the circle drive and drop off is going to get disrupted. We’re trying to push that off into the school year as long as we possibly can to minimize (interruptions), but this is kind of when we’re going to have to start it in order to finish by the deadline,” Smith said.

Most of the funds for the work will come from borrowing against district SAVE funds through 2050 and Physical Plant and Equipment Levy funds. SAVE funds are the 1% sales tax revenues that come from purchases in the state that are collected and distributed to state public school districts.

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