The relocation of Battle Ground Public Schools’ CAM Academy is moving forward as scheduled, but the cost of a full buildout for modular classrooms at the district’s Lewisville Campus are coming in higher than initially expected.
During its June 27 meeting, the BGPS Board of Directors unanimously approved contracts for sitework and the first of three modular buildings which will be installed at the campus. When complete, the modulars will house CAM Academy’s third through twelfth-grade students who have moved out of the former location on Onsdorff Road.
The first modular is expected to cost about $3.5 million, BGPS Executive Director of Facilities Kevin Jolma said at the meeting. When ready, the building will house seventh through twelfth-grade students.
Jolma explained a number of factors that made the building pricier than other parts of the relocation project. He said the building size had to be increased due to the need for chemical labs for high school classes, which cost about $250,000. The lab furnishings and equipment themselves added another $300,000.
“There’s a ton of cabinetry and all the specialties that go with (the labs),” Jolma said.
The modular also required energy code upgrades that added another $300,000 to the price tag, he said.
Jolma noted the cost of labor and materials have increased 57% since 2017 when the district purchased its last modular building. The full project, which includes sitework for the campus and all three modulars, is estimated to cost around $13 million, he said. The original estimate was between $10 million and $12 million.
BGPS Superintendent Denny Waters said the relocation will be paid for through the use of the district’s impact fees, which are collected on new construction in the district and used for projects like the move.
“We have the funding for it,” Jolma added.
He noted the money the district spent leasing the Onsdorff building would be put back into the district’s general fund. For the last school year, the lease was about $525,000.
That lease was a one-year extension of sorts after the building was purchased by Cornerstone Christian Academy in 2021. Cornerstone plans to begin its high school program with ninth grade students at the building, along with lower grades for North Clark County students.
Although BGPS’ plan is to have CAM Academy set up in modulars, in the meantime it will be housed at the existing Lewisville Campus buildings off of Main Street. The academy can’t be permanently housed in those existing buildings because of a requirement that was included for the state funding the district received back when it constructed Chief Umtuch Middle School, Waters explained in a January letter to families.
The temporary relocation into the Lewisville buildings is almost complete.
“The move is going excellent,” Jolma said.
He estimated about 95% of the school has moved out of the old building and onto the Lewisville campus.
The first modular building is expected to be delivered on Sept. 1, Jolma said. BGPS Communications Officer Rita Sanders previously said the district expects the building to be ready for students following next school year’s winter break.
Alongside the first modular building, the board approved sitework for the entire campus. All of the sitework was planned over the summer months “so when those modulars show up, I can just set them in,” Jolma said.
The sitework contract at about $2.7 million was higher than what Jolma hoped for. He said the work included a required stormwater facility, 300 feet of street improvements and sidewalks, as well as full lighting of the site, among other utilities.
Board member Ted Champine referred to his own background in civil engineering before moving to approve the contract.
“It is high, but it is probably still pretty competitive. … Just from my background, I would say it looks reasonable,” Champine said about the cost.
BGPS Board President Mark Watrin said the district considered a number of sites for the academy’s relocation, though the Lewisville campus seemed like the best choice.
“I think it was pretty creative to find space here, and close to not only the original campus, but other resources like Battle Ground High School,” Watrin said.
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