At its Oct. 2 public hearing and special session, the Hamburg School Board moved forward on its three-part expansion and renovation project at Marnie Simons Elementary School.  
The board approved a resolution awarding a contract for two of the three phases (known as “bid packages”) to Construct, Inc., of Omaha, which offered the lower bid of the two firms vying for the contracts.
The other company seeking the contracts for all three bid packages was Rogge General Contractors of Lincoln, Nebr.
The three bid packages are:
1. A new addition on the east side of the school, called the “Learning Center,” to be modeled after UNL's Innovation Campus and which will function as a shop equipped for woodworking, 3-D printing, and other hands-on learning disciplines.
2. A renovation and extension of the building's main entrance that will provide safe and secure entry, an improved “commons” space, and additional office space for administration.
3. Total renovation of the science classroom. The board tabled the second bid package for the time being, because to begin work on it during the school year would cause too much disruption. That phase of the project will instead commence in the summer of 2018.
The bid for the Learning Center construction and the science room renovation from Construct, Inc. totaled $608,000. Rogge General Contractors' total bid for those two phases was $636,000. The board is legally required to accept the lowest bid.
Though Rogge's $58,000 bid for the science room renovation was $11,000 less than Construct's, their cost to build the Learning Center was $39,000 higher than the Omaha firm's $539,000 bid for the building addition. It is usual practice to consolidate bids for different projects from the same company as a single package.
After discussion the board agreed that hiring one company for both bid packages, 1 and 3, was preferable to having more than one company executing the different projects.
Jerry Purdy of the Design Alliance architectural firm in Des Moines, which drew up the contracts for all three bid packages, is familiar with Construct, Inc., through their ongoing work on a Council Bluffs church, which he said is going very well.
Purdy said the preferred schedule is to do the science room now, which will not take very long, and pour the footings for the Learning Center as soon as possible in order that work on it can proceed through the colder months ahead.
Asked whether delaying construction of bid package 2, the main entrance and new administrative offices, will mean that the bid will be different in January, Purdy replied that Construct's current bid could be used as a base line, but that numbers are bound to increase due to industry inflation, which stands at eight percent per year.
Superintendent Mike Wells pointed out that the construction firm already has some design ideas that could bring costs down, and agree with Purdy's assertion that “there's room for a conversation” with Construct, Inc. about the matter.
In light of the postponement of bid package 2, the question arose whether anything could be done in the interim to provide safe secure entry to the building. Dr. Wells explained that the biggest issue at present is that there are “no eyes on the door.” A camera/lock/buzzer system could be installed but would require new doors—a considerable expense that in any event would be only temporary until the new construction got underway.
It was agreed that the school could continue with its present configuration until next summer.
In other matters, the board approved an engagement letter to use the Piper Jaffray financial advising and underwriting firm for the Safe Secure Entry/Handicap Accessibility project.
The non-binding letter gives Piper Jaffray permission to examine the district's financial situation, and is required before a financial package can be put together. The recommendation to use Piper Jaffray was approved by the board.
The pads in the gym need to be replaced and the sports graphics updated. The issue was tabled until the Sports Boosters can be approached to help raise some money for the job.
The board approved up to $3,480 to remove asbestos from the consumer science room. The work was scheduled to have been completed by Oct. 7.
The district is taking bids to sell the middle school building, and Dr. Wells expects there will be a total of three offers. The board has the final say in what kind of an establishment moves in if and when it is sold. They are waiting on a specific bid from a person wanting to open a grocery store there.
There was discussion of the fate of the middle school building's refrigeration units, which led to a conversation regarding how Marnie Simons's freezers could be improved or replaced.