Building temporary sites for the three Denham Springs schools hardest hit by the August flood, and making some of the permanent campuses safe for students’ return, has proved more costly than Livingston Parish school officials had anticipated.
The School Board on Thursday approved nearly $2 million in additional spending for work already performed at those locations. The board also voted to put out for bid more flood repair work at seven campuses in and around Denham Springs.
The district’s flood-related costs, including possible reconstruction at three Denham Springs campuses, are projected to top $122 million, Superintendent Rick Wentzel has said.
The temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary, on Hatchell Lane next to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, had to be raised with dirt and limestone to meet the base flood elevation set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and to comply with city codes, said architect Gene Eleazar, of Alvin Fairburn & Associates. The work, which involved 9,000 cubic yards of fill dirt and 2,400 tons of stone, added $483,000 to the $1.8 million cost for the campus.
Wet weather has pushed back opening day for the last of Livingston Parish’s temporary school…
The temporary school sites for Southside Elementary and Junior High, on the campuses of Juban Parc Elementary and Junior High, also required more work than planned. Those costs included $46,000 to add electrical connections that DEMCO did not provide and $16,000 to remove dirt that hindered drainage beneath the modular buildings and to connect three sewer tie-ins, Eleazar said.
The change orders brought the three-campus total to just under $6.2 million – up from a planned $5.6 million.
Ninety percent of those costs are reimbursable by FEMA through the agency’s public assistance program, Eleazar said.
The school district also faces $1.4 million more in remediation and restoration costs for six flooded campuses, after contractors discovered asbestos and other issues that had to be dealt with before the schools could be reopened to students and faculty.
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The bulk of those added costs – about $1 million – came from Denham Springs High School, where Guarantee Restoration had to remove plaster from various walls, replace gym flooring, plywood and drywall, and perform other work not included in the original contract, Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said.
Asbestos abatement at Freshwater Elementary and Seventh Ward Elementary, plus mold remediation and freezer demolition at Southside Elementary, added $108,000, while plaster removal throughout Denham Springs Elementary cost $166,000. Cleaning the gym ceiling, removing bleachers and other work at Holden School added another $47,000.
“All the work you see here was required work so that we could safely occupy (those campuses),” Murphy told the School Board on Thursday. “Also, as you might think with the size and scope of work we were looking at in the midst of this disaster, there were some initial buildings that were not assessed with damage, and as we went through the project, we found that we had other buildings with damage.”
Additional work will be needed at several campuses to restore the school buildings to pre-flood conditions. The School Board granted authority Thursday for the administration to seek bids for flood repairs at seven campuses in the Denham Springs area – Denham Springs High School, Freshman High and Junior High, plus four elementary schools.
The scope of work that remains at each campus is unclear. Wentzel said Friday that those lists were not yet available.
The work will be put out for bid in phases, based on severity of need at each site and ensuring that firms bidding on the projects are not overloaded with too much work at once, he said.