Sometimes it makes the best economic sense to do everything at once, Southwest Licking Treasurer Richard Jones said during a special board meeting April 5.
The school board voted 4-0, with Roger Zeune absent, to award contracts for several Watkins Middle School improvements, including $668,000 to General Temperature Control for HVAC work; $42,000 to Deskins Electric for electrical work and $153,100 to Campopiano Roofing for roof work.
Jones said he contracted for all the projects at once to get a better price on the bids.
He said the district received two bids for the HVAC work, "four or five" for the electrical work and three for the roofing.
"We got some competitive bids in," Jones said.
All the accepted bids were the lowest. He said overall, the HVAC was a little pricier than anticipated, the electrical was a little less and roofing was as expected.
"There were really no surprises," he said.
He said the projects are being funded through a tax participation note issued for permanent-improvement projects.
Jones said the work would begin as soon as possible.
He said the HVAC equipment has a six-week lead time, which is why the special meeting was called.
Jones said he wanted to start the process early so the work would be completed by the next school year.
"There is no air conditioning at the middle school now," he said.
Jones said even though the district is considering the possibility of replacing the middle school several years from now, the building would still be used, most likely for administrative and other offices.
The improvements, he said, would still be needed.
In the meantime, the middle school building can become very warm and uncomfortable for students and teachers.
"It's not a waste of money whatsoever," Jones said. "This will help teachers out. It gets really hot in those classrooms late spring and in the fall. They really need this."
Board member Don Huber said April 12 that there is no current timeline to replace the middle school other than the district is in a better position to receive funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission if it approves doing so fairly soon.
And, if building a new facility were approved, it would still be several years before the project is completed.
"It doesn't happen overnight," he said. "It takes several years."