Iowa City school district may hire consultant to review school buildings

Consultant will cost $167,520, plus expenses; firm to deliver master facilities plan by April

IOWA CITY – The Iowa City school board will hold a special meeting Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, to consider hiring a consultant to physically assess the district’s schools.

Superintendent Stephen Murley has said for months such a study is needed to help the district make long-term decisions on school buildings to accommodate growing enrollment. The school board earlier this year authorized Murley to request proposals for the study.

The board will be asked at a 5:30 p.m. meeting to approve a contract with Decatur, Ill.-based BLDD Architects. The district would pay the firm a $167,520 fee, plus up to another $10,000 to reimburse BLDD for its employees’ expenses.

BLDD would help the district develop a master facilities plan. At an August meeting, a BLDD representative told Iowa City school officials how the company can calculate the “educational adequacy” of school buildings and the life-cycle costs for each building over a period of time to get a cost/benefit ratio. It also allows for different scenarios to be compared.

A BLDD team out of the company’s Davenport office would handle the Iowa City school district job. Members would tour every building to evaluate its needs and create a database of the results, according to information BLDD submitted to the school district.

Reports would be publicly available online. The public also would be involved through workshops, surveys and a steering committee that would include community members.

The timeline calls for submitting a master plan to the district in early April.

That would be two months after the public votes on a measure that would let the district borrow ahead on future sales-tax revenue it receives annually. If successful, up to $100 million would be available to the district, which officials say would be spent on new schools and additions to existing buildings.

On Tuesday the district released a tentative timeline for several major building projects, including the construction of three new elementary schools, a high school and building additions over the next decade.

As a complement to the facilities study BLDD would supply, the school board last month agreed to hire another firm to provide enrollment projections.

Murley has said the two studies would give district administrators the data necessary to form a comprehensive long-term plan.

On the facilities plan, seven companies responded to a request for proposals, three were interviewed and BLDD is the unanimous recommendation by a district committee to the school board, according to the district.

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