ZACHARY — The Zachary Community School Board accepted the low bid of an Alexandria firm Thursday for construction of a two-story classroom building and other improvements at Zachary Elementary School.

Ratcliff Construction submitted a bid of $10,246,000 for the project.

The school now has second- and third-grade students. The second grade will move to the new Rollins Place Elementary on Jan. 22. When the new building is finished, Zachary Elementary will have third- and fourth-grade students.

Building Committee Chairman Scott Swilley said Ratcliff’s bid, combined with an $84,000 East Baton Rouge Parish sewer impact fee and other costs, will push the price of the project to almost $11.2 million. With approximately $250,000 more needed for furniture and equipment, the project total will surpass the $11.3 million budgeted for the school, he said.

Swilley said the project architect reported that climbing steel prices accounted for higher-than-expected bids.

Architect Henry Carville will identify some construction changes that could be made to lower Ratcliff’s contract, Swilley said.

The board is building the new facility with the proceeds of a $40 million bond issue that voters approved in 2010. Finance Director Gordon Robertson said the board will sell $11 million in bonds on Feb. 14 to finish the total bond issue.

Swilley also said the $40 million bond issue will result in the number of temporary buildings dropping from a high of 42 to only six, which will save the district about $400,000 in lease payments annually.

In all, Zachary voters have approved $129 million in bond issues since the district was formed.

Other business included:

NEW OFFICERS: Board members elected Gaynell Young as the board’s president, succeeding Jannie Rogers. Young is the only remaining member who served on the panel named by Gov. Mike Foster to get the school district organized.

David Dayton was chosen as vice president.

ACADEMIC AUDIT:Michelle Clayton, executive director of academic programs, reported that she and Superintendent Scott Devillier recently completed an audit of the district’s schools, visiting each core-content classroom and meeting with principals and teachers.

Clayton gave board members a thick binder containing the results of the audit and said she and Devillier will soon make recommendations for improving district’s academic programs.