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District adds $2M to budget for first bond project


Increase is related to larger scope due to changing sites after initial estimates were completed in 2013

The Woodburn School Board took several actions regarding its much anticipated and multi-faceted capital improvement bond at its final meeting of 2015 earlier this month.

It began the Dec. 17 meeting with a work session with John J. and John O. Henri, of the construction management firm J.J. Henri Co. Inc., which was hired by the district to oversee the planning and execution of the approximately $65 million bond project.

The firm updated the board on the only major capital project that is currently underway: the remodel of a new district headquarters and welcome center, as well as the construction of a new Success Alternative High School building.

The board was asked to add $2 million to the budgets for the joint project, which was approved after a lengthy discussion.

The main reason for the adjustment is that the initial estimates were based on an entirely different property. The original budget estimate for the district HQ, welcome center and Success project (approximately $7.2 million) was put together in 2013 based on the idea of redeveloping the former Miles Chevrolet building in west Woodburn.

After the school bond failed to pass on its first try in 2014, that property was taken off the market and has since been demolished to make way for a new commercial development the Woodburn Planning Commission approved last year.

So the district looked elsewhere for a new home, ultimately purchasing a former medical clinic on Meridian Drive for $1.4 million.

However, as district Director of Business Nancy Hall explained, this building is significantly smaller than the former Chevrolet dealership, which would have been able to comfortably house all three programs.

“This building did not have enough square footage to include the Success Alternative (High School), so it was recommended and approved that a new Success High School would be built on property already owned by the district, adjacent to the new welcome center/district office,” Hall told the board in a staff report.

The expanded scope of the project has brought a number of additional costs, Hall’s report said, including more demolition at the Meridian building than had been anticipated at Miles Chevrolet, additional fixtures and HVAC, extensive site development for the Success campus, which is on previously undeveloped land, and protecting Goose Creek and Highway 214 from construction-related impacts.

The revised estimates presented to the school board included an additional $656,371 for the welcome center and district office, and $1,277,714 for Success. However, staff asked for a budget addition of only $2 million because the numbers are still soft estimates at this point.

“Our construction manager/general contractor is reviewing subcontractor bids now, so there might be some additional savings there,” Hall noted.

The district has some breathing room in its overall budget because its sale of $62 million in bonds this past summer netted a premium of almost $10 million. Hall said the additional funds for this project will come out of that premium.

Though the budget adjustment passed unanimously, some board members expressed concern about the need for additional funds at this early stage in the project. However, John J. Henri assured the board that his firm was proceeding cautiously and responsibly.

“Our plan is to stick within this budget,” he said. “If we run into unforeseen considerations with this site, we’ll be back here to talk about what we want to do and if we want to go somewhere else. But right now, our plan is to stick within the budget and the concept that’s been approved.”

In other news, the board approved the hiring of Soderstrom Architects to head up the design of the expansion and related upgrades for Washington Elementary School, the next major project on the timeline laid out by the Henri firm.

A different firm, BBL (Barrentine, Bates and Lee) Architects, had been hired for the interior redesign of the welcome center and district office.

Hall and John J. Henri said it’s possible that each site could have a different architect, because of the different focuses and needs of each project.

Finally, the board appointed Woodburn businessman Charlie Piper to complete its bond advisory committee. The committee is comprised of board members, district staff and community members and is tasked with providing accountability and oversight to the bond project.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.