The contract for a $6 million expansion of Blaine’s Johnsville Elementary School will be awarded next week — for a second time, after the initial bid was rescinded for not meeting a new state requirement.

Work to add 11 classrooms was to be completed in time for the start of the 2015-16 school year, but an already-tight schedule has grown tighter. The Anoka-Hennepin school board is expected to award the new contract during its meeting on April 13.

“We are still hoping we could get things completed” on time, but much will depend on the weather, said Chuck Holden, the district’s chief operations officer.

The initial contract, awarded to Jorgenson Construction, was challenged by another company, Rochon Corp. At issue was a new state statute requiring contractors to get sworn statements for their work from their subcontractors, which hadn’t been done, the district said. As a result, Anoka-Hennepin decided to rescind all bids and reopen the bidding process.

“It’s confusing,” Holden said of the state provision. “There’s been problems with others because of the same statute.”

The 14,000-square-foot addition will help the district deal with an influx of students projected for the Johnsville attendance area. Officials anticipate that 4,000 new homes will be built in the area over the next 15 years.

The addition will include nine regular classrooms, a flexible teaching and learning space, and art and music rooms. It will allow a maximum school population of 900 students. Currently, enrollment is 756, or 45 more than had been projected for the year.

If the construction project continues during the school year, Holden said some students will be temporarily placed in the media center and computer labs. “Because we are building for expanded growth, we could get by,” he said.

During the construction, crews will also replace windows in the front of the building and add an overhang to clearly mark the main entrance.

Elsewhere in the school district, another project to deal with rising enrollment is moving ahead as planned. An overflow of kindergartners was projected for this fall at Ramsey Elementary School in Ramsey, so seven teaching classrooms will be added to the neighboring Wilson Elementary in Anoka, and some kindergartners from the Ramsey area will go there.

Holden said he is glad the problem didn’t happen with the Wilson bid, because that project is more extensive. “It would have been a bigger issue, and we have more students coming on the first day of school,” he said.

There, the site plans call for a one-story, 10,900-square-foot addition to help handle more than 150 kindergartners coming from the Ramsey Elementary attendance area. The playground, where the addition will be built, and the kitchen will also be remodeled.

The project will include seven regular classrooms and two specialty rooms. In addition, seven new teachers will be hired. Construction has already started in the playground area, Holden added.

The district will fund both school projects mostly through lease levy funds.

 

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