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The Los Alamos Board of Education recently opted to put the landscaping piece of the middle school construction contract out for bid after officials realized they could probably get more for the taxpayers money if they did so.
Originally estimated at $240,000, the price tag had to be clipped to $125,000 to make up for underestimates that cropped up in other parts of the construction project.
“When the overall cost of the project came in, we wanted to reduce that by about $115,000,” said Los Alamos Schools Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt. “Then the question between the schools and builder became if you take $115,000 out of that landscaping, how much landscaping do you have left?”
According to Schmidt, there was a “decent amount, but the hope of the board was to have a great landscape.”
When the high school was being renovated and rebuilt, the board did the same thing, Schmidt said, a move that accomplished all their landscaping goals but for $40,000 less.
“So, we’re applying the high school business model to the middle school project,” Schmidt said. “... we think there is a reasonable chance that by doing so, we are going to get more product for our money. In this case landscapers will be working toward the end of the season and they will want the work. Our thinking is we can get a lot of that $240,000 back into the project.”
One of the main features of the middle school’s new landscape will be a courtyard in the middle of the campus. It will be surrounded by buildings, yet open on all sides. The plan is to feature lots of trees and “shade structures” as well.
At the meeting, Schmidt told the board his recommendation, and why it made sense and why they need to do it now.
“It just seems like these conversations go on and on, and we don’t have on and on,” Schmidt told the board. “We have an opportunity to do what’s right for our taxpayers and that is to deliver a quality building, and I think that quality buildings demand quality exteriors as well.”
With that, the board did vote unanimously to put the landscaping out for bid as a request for proposals.