The 15,000-square-foot, two-story addition to Ames School and other construction projects at the three elementary schools in Riverside Elementary School District 96 won’t cost the district more than $16,257,543. 

That’s the amount of a guaranteed maximum-price contract that the District 96 Board of Education unanimously approved with the Berglund Construction Company at a virtual school board meeting held May 21.

By waiting to award the contract until well into construction, uncertainties were limited and allowed Berglund to agree to a lower price. Under the guaranteed maximum-price contract, Berglund bears the risk of significant cost overruns. 

District 96 will not have to pay more than the set amount no matter what the ultimate cost ends up being and could pay less.

“It’s a huge win for us,” said Ramesh Nair, who is serving as District 96’s owner’s representative for its construction projects, at the school board’s committee of the whole meeting on May 6. “It’s a win for both the school district and Berglund.”

Nair said that the district saved at least $500,000 by not entering into a contract in January before construction started. Once Berglund opened up walls and excavated ground they were of any complications that could result in additional costs. 

As a result, they were willing to agree to a lower price in May than they would have accepted in January, Nair said.

Under the guaranteed maximum-price contract, District 96 will get most of the savings if the final price turns out to be less than the contracted amount. The contract allows for $373,414 to be spent on overtime, primarily Saturday work. 

If less than that is spent on overtime, the balance will return to the district. If subcontractor allowances of $355,000, designed to cover unforeseen costs, are not used up, the remainder will also be fully returned to the district. 

Any money left unspent in a separate contingency fund of nearly $303,000 will be split equally by the district and Berglund.

“This guaranteed maximum price is very fair to the district,” said school board member Joel Marhoul, a civil engineer by profession.

Construction is already well along at Ames School, where the steel structure of the addition has already been erected. Nair told the school board on May 20 that, partially because of a lot of rain this spring, Berglund is about 10 days behind schedule at Ames, but he believes the addition can still be completed by the target date of Aug. 14.

“We are still looking at finishing the project in the middle of August,” Nair said.

As part of the guaranteed maximum contract, the school board approved spending $162,723 to build a new playground at Ames School. It will include a zip line and eight pieces of handicapped-accessible playground equipment. It will also feature conga drums and a cabasa, and it can accommodate 51 children at the same time. The company Imagine Nation will supply the playground equipment. 

“I think the kids are going to be just blown away when they are able to get back into the school,” said school board member Wesley Muirheid, who was the board liaison to a playground committee, which included parents and school staff. “I’m tremendously pleased with the final product that we put together.”

Construction work has also begun at Central, Blythe Park, and Hollywood Schools. An elevator is being installed at Central School, where a new multipurpose room is being built in the lower level where the district’s administrative offices used to be. 

At Blythe Park School, a new secure entrance vestibule is being built and a new classroom is being added. At Hollywood School, the location of principal’s office will be moved closer to the entrance and a secure entrance vestibule will be added.