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Next steps

Marshall school district will advertise for bids to build new elementary school, take proposals for old West Side property

MARSHALL — The early steps of a major construction project at Marshall Public Schools may have encountered a setback, when bids for expansions at Park Side Elementary came back higher than anticipated. But the district is still moving forward — the next steps came this week, along with the unveiling of designs for a new elementary school along Southview Drive.

School officials are excited to see what the response will be to an upcoming pre-construction meeting for the new school, said Dion Caron, director of business services at MPS.

Members of the Marshall School Board voted this week to advertise for bids for the planned new elementary school. Bids will be opened Feb. 6.

“We will do a pre-bid construction meeting on Jan. 22,” Caron said.

The new elementary school would serve students in grades 2-4. In the current plan, the building would have 83,450 square feet of space, and be two stories tall. In a presentation to the school board on Monday, David Maroney of architectural firm ATS&R said second grade classrooms would be on the first floor of the school, with third grade classrooms on the second floor and fourth grade classrooms on both floors. In addition to classrooms, each floor of the school would have flexible learning areas and locker banks.

“It’s all brick. We’ve got some metal around the entryway,” Maroney said. The building would also have “regular, economical framed windows,” which would let a lot of daylight into classrooms.

An alternate in the bid package would make the school’s gymnasium wider and allow for full-width basketball courts and additional seating, Maroney said.

Construction of the new school would start in the spring, and go through most of the summer of 2021, Maroney said.

Chris Ziemer, of ICS Consulting, told school board members the project had generated some interest so far from contractors. “We’re continually being proactive in calling and reaching out as well,” he said.

Caron said MPS is still moving forward on the expansion plans for Park Side Elementary as well. In December, the school board rejected bids for a building expansion at Park Side Elementary and for security upgrades at Marshall schools, after the bids came back too high. New bids for a modified version of the building expansion will be opened on Jan. 28.

“The changes we made, nothing is outside what the review and comment and the referendum said we would do,” Caron said. The new design of the Park Side addition is simpler, and hopefully better for contractors to work with. “We’re pretty confident in the adjustments that were made in the drawings.”

A pre-bid meeting was held Wednesday.

“We had a good turnout for that,” Caron said.

But while MPS is making plans for new construction, it also needs to figure out what to do with the current West Side Elementary school, once it’s out of commission. This week, school board members voted to solicit proposals for both the West Side school building and property. Bids will be opened Feb. 24.

“We don’t want to sit on that until 2021,” Caron said. The district also wanted to take offers for the school building and land together. If a buyer can demolish or use the building, it would save MPS in costs for demolition, he said.

The school district plans to decommission West Side beginning in fall 2021, after students move to the new school on Southview Drive.

The Request For Proposals document the school board approved said strong proposals would include a description of how the property’s new use would help the local economy.

“It has to be beneficial to the city and taxpayers,” Caron said. Proposals for the West Side property will be reviewed by the MPS facilities committee before a recommendation is made to the school board.

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