VALLEY SPRINGS — The Valley Springs Board of Education approved costs for a new greenhouse when it met Monday night and it discussed a way to pay costs that were higher than expected.

Nabholz Construction project manager John Eccleston and Modus Studio architect Matt Poe told board members about the future of the greenhouse.

Eccleston said bids were opened in late November. The apparent low bid was $296,000 for construction without a retaining wall. The retaining wall was bid separately as an alternate and the apparent low bid came in at $58,455.

Eccleston explained that greenhouse construction had been pushed back later into the project to combine efficiencies. Poe said there wouldn’t be an additional construction manager, so that will save cost. Eccleston added there will be a second construction superintendent for the greenhouse project alone to see it completed on time.

There had been $33,000 in contingencies for the project, but with board’s permission that would be used for the high school construction.

Eccleston, who only recently took over as project manager, went on to say that the decision had been made at some point to shift the construction site 50 feet to the west from the original plans, which required addition of a parking lot.

Some more cost came in for sidewalk work, although that didn’t necessarily have to do with site relocation. The cost of additional concrete work added another $11,000 to the project.

Eccleston said dirt work will be more expensive than originally thought as well. He said the cost would have been about $35,000 less if the surface had already been leveled and compacted.

He explained that it would take about two weeks to get contracts signed after board approval, then about 17 weeks for construction barring bad weather.

Poe said the original estimated cost for the project was $225,000. That was based on a similar project for Eureka Springs School with some money added for inflation, but it was also estimated before the site location changed.

But his company has been reworking those numbers and some costs of the budgeted amount can be absorbed with contingencies from the overall project with high school construction predicted to be under budget.

Still, Eccleston said the change of location didn’t make the entire difference. Inflation and bidding increases also bumped up the overall cost.

Board member Randy Moore, noting the earliest possible completion date in April, asked if the agri department would be able to use the greenhouse next spring.

Superintendent Judy Green said the class currently has its plants at Bergman School until they can be moved to the new greenhouse for the plant sale in May.

“That’s only if we do something pretty quick,” board member Thanh Ketchum said. “If we wait until the next board meeting, we’ll add two-and-a-half weeks to that.”

The board questioned whether it would be less expensive to use asphalt instead of concrete.

Poe said that would pose a little bit of a problem. There is currently no asphalt included in plans, so that would be a different contractor and would require different foundation compaction levels. He also said concrete is much more durable than asphalt.

Eccleston said the school could save about $3,400 by removing lighting from the greenhouse, which is only for nighttime viewing of plants. That cost would be enough to cover concrete versus asphalt.

The cost of the greenhouse will fall on the district as it wasn’t included in the projects that voters approved in a millage increase election.

However, an individual years ago had donated $500,000 in a deed of trust to be used strictly for Albright Hall upkeep. When the state Department of Education declared Albright Hall no longer usable for students, the money was converted to the building fund, where it is segregated from other funds.

Green said some of that money could be used to cover the higher cost of the greenhouse project, although some should be saved to cover the cost of demolishing Albright Hall and abating asbestos.

The board voted to accept the bids as presented, which includes the greenhouse and retaining wall at a cost of about $355,000.

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