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A vehicle passes through the roundabout between T-Bird Drive and Stadium Drive near the site of the planned new Carey Junior High School on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Cheyenne. The Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees held a special meeting at noon Monday to approve the contract for construction of the new school. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Dirt soon will start flying on East Pershing Boulevard at the site of a long-awaited new school.

The Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved a contract for construction of a replacement school for Carey Junior High.

Trustees Nate Breen and Sandy Shanor were absent from the special lunchtime meeting.

The trustees voted to approve a contract with 5R Construction, a local company known for projects such as the new Cheyenne Botanic Gardens conservatory. The contractor has done work for LCSD1 in the past.

As the board prepared to vote, Trustees Chairwoman Lynn Storey-Huylar said, “Were going to vote … after all these years.”

According to Dave Bartlett, LCSD1’s assistant superintendent of support operations, the district first began discussions about building a new Carey Junior High in 2005, making this a 13-year effort.

The board approved the contract for an amount not to exceed about $41.8 million. The base contract is about $39.8 million, with $2 million in contingency funds.

Earlier this year, the Wyoming Legislature gave LCSD1 about $43.5 million to build the school. Bartlett said part of that amount paid for the completion of the school’s design.

Bartlett told the trustees he hopes construction will begin Nov. 1, which is still four months later than officials originally hoped to start.

LCSD1 Superintendent Boyd Brown said, “The bureaucracy with the school district, the School Facilities (Division and) the Legislature has really slowed us down a little bit this time, and we all know that.”

But groundwork for the new school is about to start, and Bartlett told the trustees that he expects the project to be substantially completed by Aug. 1, 2020.

Bartlett added that they originally planned to have the project mostly done by July 1 of that year, but they extended it after they experienced delays in starting the project.

He also said LCSD1 offered $300,000 for weather protection needs, such as ground heaters, and opted to allow the contractor to request extreme weather days, which could delay the project some.

Bartlett said LCSD1 officials originally planned to build the new school over two summers and one winter but, because of the delays, they now have to build it over two winters and one summer.

Bartlett explained that the bid from 5R Construction was the lower of two bids the district received.

The information submitted to the trustees states that representatives from five construction firms submitted their qualifications for review, and LCSD1 accepted three of them. Bartlett said two of those three chose to submit bids for the project.

“Once we’ve done the prequalification – once the bids come in, we accept the low one,” he said.

In addition to the money from the state, LCSD1 is paying for upgrades to the project out of its own funds, including making the gymnasium larger and putting in synthetic turf instead of grass to match the athletic field to the one at Cheyenne’s McCormick Junior High.

The district also plans to upgrade the field at Cheyenne’s Johnson Junior High, Bartlett said.

As part of the Carey project, LCSD1 also must install a traffic light on Pershing Boulevard between the new Carey and the Jonah Business Center – temporary home of the Wyoming Legislature during state Capitol renovations – across the street.

“The (School Facilities Division) and the city require a traffic study to see the impact on patterns. As with any developer, if you’re going to dramatically change traffic, they would require the developer to pay for that,” Bartlett said.

He said the light will cost about $260,000.

Bartlett said the cost to pay for the traffic light will come out of the district’s contingency funding, but if they run low on that fund, the School Facilities Division agreed to provide additional funding for unanticipated projects.

The construction of the new building will take kids out of an old building with various problems, including electrical shorts, toilets that back up and floor tiles that pop up.

Bartlett said it also will provide open space to house some elementary students while other schools are renovated or rebuilt, and will help ease overcrowding in the district’s schools.

Kristine Galloway is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at kgalloway@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3184. Follow her on Twitter @KGalloway_WTE.

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