City to move $1.175 million more to science, technology center

Rick Wagner • Oct 4, 2017 at 8:51 AM

KINGSPORT — Groundbreaking for the Regional Science and Technology Center at Dobyns-Bennett High School might be on track for early November, following votes Tuesday night to amend the project’s budget and approve the low bid made lower by “value engineering.”.

The Board of Education and Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in that order less than an hour apart in separate meetings, voted to approve giving Bristol, Tenn.-based BurWil Construction Inc. the contract to build the center, which also will serve as D-B’s new front door. The BMA will vote a second and final time on the matter at its Oct. 17 meeting. The project also is to receive a $1.175 million boost in funding.

The original low bid of three, with alternates, was $21.122 million, but value engineering of 141 areas, with help from Perkins+Will architects, cut that figure by more than $1.3 million to $19,812,354. However, other expenses for the project are $3,360,754, making for a total of $23.174 million.

“I feel really good about the process we went through,” BOE member Eric Hyche said of the work of the Steering Committee, on which he serves. “I’m going to jump up and down when we break ground on this because it was a long process.”

The project’s origins date to 2014, and Atlanta-based John Poelker of Will+Perkins addressed the BOE on the matter Tuesday night. The center is supposed to be ready for use by January of 2019.

David Frye, the school system’s chief financial officer, explained that of the Kingsport City Schools’ share of a $140 million Sullivan County bond issue for school capital projects, $22 million originally was earmarked for the D-B project, $20 million to buy North High/Middle from Sullivan County (which already has happened, although the county is to use the school until the spring of 2020), $1.1 million to renovate North and $2.181 million for future capital renovation of other schools. That is a total of $45.218 million. 

The board’s vote shifted $1.175 million from the future capital renovation of other schools to the Science and Technology Center, which is about $2,000 more than the maximum projected amount needed. However, Frye pointed out that the 6 percent contingency for the project is $1.188 million, and if not spent that money could be shifted to the capital fund for other schools. For one thing, Sevier Middle is planned to become an elementary facility.


The school board voted 5-0 to approve the bid by BurWil and also to amend the budget to reflect the change. That was the same margin for all other votes it took Tuesday night, including:

— Approving a Mattern & Craig professional service agreement amendment for more work on value engineering the D-B track renovation, which also came in over budget. The BOE and BMA rejected the initial lone bid of more than $1 million for a project estimated at $750,000. Moreover, the scope and timing of the project components are being changed, so the company is being paid an additional $4,630 for that work. Frye said the lighting and bleachers can be done before track season in the spring but that the resurfacing will be delayed until after Memorial Day.

— Approving, on a consent agenda, a Mattern & Craig traffic study for D-B.

Approving the proposed 2018-19 school calendar.  For students, school will start Aug. 6 with winter break after a half-day Dec. 21. The school year is evenly split with 89 school days each semester, and of 13 banked days has two professional development days, Oct. 5 and March 15. Parent-teacher conferences are Sept. 14, fall break Oct. 15-19, Thanksgiving the normal three-day break and Christmas two full weeks and three weekends. Students will return Jan. 8, with parent-teacher conferences Feb. 8, spring break March 25-29, April 19 (Good Friday) off and the last day of school a half day May 23, with graduation at D-B Saturday, May 25.

Approving what school officials called minor policy revisions in school district records to reflect Tennessee law, on goals to reflect the system’s current goals and on student wellness to reflect federal and state requirements.

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