The construction of the new Muldown Elementary School building is moving ahead of schedule.
Speaking to the Whitefish School Board during its Dec. 11 meeting, Dow Powell, who serves as the owner’s representative for the district, shared updates on the school’s construction process and provided an optimistic timeline for completion. The building is on track now to be completed in May of 2020.
Powell said the project is moving faster than expected so far, allowing building materials to be purchased now rather than in a few months, when he’s heard prices may be increasing.
“Everything is going well, we’re within budget, we have contingency,” Powell said. “To date, of the total project we’ve bought just under $9 million worth of services, all our steel, concrete, slabs, polished floors, a lot of stuff that we’ve bought on today’s dollars. I think we’re seeing some increases in price through the spring and it was very beneficial to get this steel and a lot of those big ticket items purchased and bid out.”
The district is constructing a $26.5 million school after a bond was approved by voters in 2017. The current building faces overcrowding and a deteriorating infrastructure.
The original timeline showed the building ready for fall classes in 2020.
Powell said nearly half of the new building’s wall footings have already been poured, and masonry scaffolding was being set up with work on the gym expected to begin this week. Anderson’s Masonry out of Kalispell was selected as the project’s masons.
He also added that plumbers have started laying under-slab plumbing on the kitchen end of the school.
Final construction drawings will be done in late January, Powell said, and bids going out on Feb. 1.
“When you really think back and look at this whole thing, this wasn’t supposed to start until April, maybe late March. We’re going to have the foundation in by close to the first of January. All the walls, pretty much all the concrete poured except for the slabs. We don’t want to pour those in the winter anyway,” Powell said.
Asked by board chair Nick Polumbus where this puts the school in the overall construction timeline, Powell said he’s hoping to move teachers in sooner than originally planned.
“It puts us ahead. The schedule that we see right now is May of 2020, and I’m hoping to push it even farther. I’d just like to have some time at the end of the Muldown year to have the teachers be able to have access to the school to help them move some of their things in. Because once summer comes, it’s going to be pretty hard, I know that,” he said.
“All in all, it’s going absolutely great,” Powell added. “We’ve got great crews on the job. Subcontractors, contractors, everybody’s working very well together, and we’re dealing with the weather, which is not bad at all — yet.”