The Washoe County School District says exploration has started at the site of the future middle school in Arrowcreek. Exploration will include drilling and trenching to confirm seismic faults and soil sampling.
Wednesday, October 17th 2018, 11:09 PM PDT by Brandon Fuhs
Updated: Monday, October 22nd 2018, 6:53 PM PDT
The Washoe County School District says exploration has started at the site of the future middle school in Arrowcreek. The school district obtained ownership of the nearly 50 acres of land from the Forest Service Monday morning.
“We’ve finally obtained full ownership and are currently doing some geothermal exploration of the site,” says Adam Searcy, Chief Facilities Management Officer with WCSD.
Exploration will include drilling and trenching to confirm seismic faults and soil sampling. Crews will also prepare for the geothermal wells the WCSD designs to save money on heating and cooling the school.
Searcy says the geothermal system is a more energy efficient method than using natural gases. He says it’s proven to be a successful method in other new facilities so the WCSD intends to continue installation for future projects.
“We’ve been able to calculate the cost benefit and realize those cost savings continuing on to this day,” says Searcy.
Searcy says only about 28 acres of the 50 will be used to develop the campus. The rest will be kept to match the landscape of the area.
“What that allows us to do is position the school comfortably on the property, leaving lot’s of natural open space as a buffer between the community and neighboring streets,” says Searcy.
When WC-1 was passed in 2016, WCSD estimated that the middle school to be built in Arrowcreek would cost around $81.4 million. Last Wednesday the Capital Funding Protection Committee for the district unanimously agreed to recommend the $81.4 million budget and school design of the middle school to the Board of Trustees.
If the Board of Trustees approves the budget at their meeting Tuesday, the next step would be starting the bidding process, and construction would start Spring 2019.
Last Wednesday the committee also heard a presentation about the rising construction costs in the region. Managing Director for Cumming Construction Management Frank Fernandez says over the last year, the number of construction projects is up almost ten percent, and construction costs will continue to rise.
“We had forecast in this area an increase of four percent annual growth of construction escalation,” Fernandez says. “But from what we’re looking at now we’re looking at a possible six or seven percent cost increase next year and then five percent the year after.”
There are many contributing factors to rising construction costs, but Fernandez says labor is the biggest reason over the last 24 months.
“Construction schedules are taking longer because labor is not available,” Fernandez says. “Subcontractors are splitting labor between projects.”
Shortages of material have also contributed to rising costs, but Fernandez says new enacted tariffs are certainly driving costs up, mainly due to uncertainty.
“Subcontractors are afraid to bid projects because they’re uncertain where the material prices are going to go,” Fernandez says. “What’s going to be the real impact of these steel and aluminum tariffs? [The subcontractors] have to enter into a contract right now, so they’re hedging an increase in their prices 20, 25 percent.”
Despite several factors at play increasing construction costs in northern Nevada, the middle school did not exceed estimates from 2016 when WC-1 was passed. District staff used data from Desert Skies and Sky Ranch Middle Schools, which are under construction and under budget at this point, along with updated research.
“We’re able to take those baseline estimates knowing what we know about the current market conditions,” Chief Facilities Managing Operator for WCSD Adam Searcy says. “It is escalating and when we bid those projects, they will likely come in under what we’ve estimated them.”
The plan is to open the school for the 2020-2021 school year.