District solicits bids for Wilkes Elementary

The plan to build a new Wilkes Elementary School is in the home stretch.

The school board unanimously approved the recommendation to begin soliciting bids for the new building at the last school board meeting. The information has been posted at for contractors to view. Bids will be taken on May 19.

The decision on the final bid will be made at the May 26 school board meeting.

There will be a mandatory pre-bid conference for contractors at 3 p.m. April 27 at Wilkes, which will include a tour of the site.

Tamela VanWinkle, the director of facilities and capital projects for the school district, said they have heard from three bidders expressing interest in the project.

"I think we're getting interest," she said. "People have been calling and I'll be on the phone calling (contractors.)"

Though she could not disclose the names of those who had expressed interest, she did say she was "pleased" with those who had contacted her. She also said she would not be surprised if Leo Finnegan Construction of Tacoma, who was the lone bidder for Bainbridge High School's 200 building, put in a bid as well.

VanWinkle added that while it was difficult to get bids in for the 200 building back in 2007 because of the construction market, the district should get more interest from contractors this time around.

"If they had something in their backyard, they're not going to want to come to an island, because there's access challenges," VanWinkle said. "But the market's different now, so there's more people that are interested."

VanWinkle also said the involvement of Mahlum Architects with the project is another draw. The firm designed the 200 building and won a Civic Design Award for its work in 2009.

"Contractors like what they design and are interested in building their projects so that helps too," she said.

The design has gone through the city's Design Review board and was approved for a conditional use permit. VanWinkle said they expect to be approved for a building permit by the time they open the bids.

Whoever puts in the winning bid will work on making the school as environmentally friendly as possible.

It will use geothermal heating and natural cooling as part of a process to reduce energy use, while a rainwater collection system will be part of the building. Renewable materials will also be used.

"We really are committed to what we believe is a community value to reuse and provide an energy efficient [building], VanWinkle said. "We want the building to teach opportunities to the kids on how to reuse water and manage stormwater in a renewable way."


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