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March 26, 2015

Fowler awarded Desert Hills Middle School construction contract

The Kennewick School Board of Directors awarded the General Construction Contract for the new Desert Hills Middle School, located on Clodfelter Road, to Fowler General Construction of Richland, Washington. The board also decided to move up the bid award and construction timeline for Middle School #5.

Fowler Construction, who is currently building Lewis and Clark Elementary School, Richland Elementary School #10 and Sacajawea Elementary School in the Richland School District, provided a base bid of $24,599,000, less than the original estimated architect costs. Bids on four alternate projects were also accepted bringing the total construction package to $25,600,000. Construction of the new Desert Hills Middle School will begin mid-April and will open in the fall of 2016.

After the board vote, district administration and the district’s Capital Facilities Committee recommended that the board move up the construction timeline on Middle School #5 located at Southridge Boulevard and 27th Avenue in order to take advantage of potential cost savings.

“By taking advantage of the synergy of building the two exact same buildings four months apart and moving sub-contractors from one building to the next, there is the potential for cost savings,” stated Superintendent Dave Bond. “If we stick to our original construction timeline of starting in the fall, we would likely miss out on this window of opportunity.”

The board voted in favor of changing the timeline so that the construction bid process would begin at the end of May. Construction could begin as early as August on Middle School #5.

The new construction timeline for Middle School #5 means that it could be completed sometime in January or February 2017, rather than the fall of 2017. Students who will be attending school at the old Desert Hills Middle School could move to the new school sometime in January or February.

“Although it is not ideal to move staff and students mid school year, it provides an opportunity for the 8th graders in that new boundary area, to experience attending the new school for half of the year,” stated Bond.

District administration will develop a plan to move students and staff into their new school that will cause the least amount of disruption. This will include equipping the school new furniture, moving essential classroom materials first and coordinating the move over a weekend.

This would not be the first time the district has moved a students and staff to a new building after school already started. Southridge High School, Park Middle School and Edison Elementary are all past projects that moved mid-year.