The Hanford Joint Union High School District recently approved $1.8 million in upgrades to the Hanford High School campus.
Upgrades include replacement of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and the contract was granted to American Inc. The amount exceeded the initial project budget of $750,000, and includes an additional $86,000 for new roofing of the Mail Hall building.
In addition to the HVAC project, the board approved a window replacement project at a cost of $680,000. The original budget was $250,000.
The construction projects will cost the district a total of $1,814,174.
Funding for the projects comes from the second and third issued Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds, a federal program administered by the Department of Education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Different parts of the project are set to start relatively soon, whatever we can do without bringing the cafeteria down because we don’t want to disturb student usage of that facility,” said Renee Creech, assistant superintendent of business services and operations at the Hanford Joint Union High School District.
The separate projects were originally pitched as a singular package to the board in November of 2021. The district in turn pitched the project to construction agencies but did not receive any bids at that time.
“At the beginning of 2022, we bid the projects twice, first we bid them together and we got nothing. We separated the projects between the windows and the HVAC and we got one bid each,” said Creech.
Creech said that due to a negative bidding climate and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the district decided to decline all bids.
“Due to the bidding and construction climate at that time a year ago, all bids were coming in extraordinarily high. The district decided to hold off and wait,” said Creech.
She notes the importance of the upgrades to the Hanford High cafeteria, as it currently has no proper cooling or heating system installed. The system will ensure improved air quality and climate conditions for students in the future.
“That building has never had air conditioning, it's been on a swamp cooler. So, every year we battle with a few things, either it's cold because it’s an old furnace, or it's extremely hot because it’s a swamp cooler. The swamp cooler is only pretty effective until you hit about 90 degrees outside,” said Creech.
Along with the added HVAC upgrades, installing new windows in the cafeteria insures the space will run more energy efficiently. The cafeteria is currently still equipped with the original windows from 1952.
“In switching to HVAC we wanted to then upgrade the windows to be more energy efficient because now we're actually pumping cold and heated air into the main hall, that's how that project came about,” said Creech.
While both construction projects have far surpassed their original budget, Creech said the board anticipated the increase and knew they would have to adapt.
“We’re conservative by nature, we in the district office as well as the board are always concerned about projects staying within budget. I hate to say it’s been since the pandemic, but a lot of things changed after that, we’ve had to adapt to a few different things,” said Creech.
The district knew the original estimates would need to be updated to match the existing economic climate.
“The quotes that we had originally were from before everything went haywire with the construction and bidding climate. So they were a little bit outdated, we knew the bids would be higher than what those original estimates were, we don’t know what the bids are going to be until we open them,” said Creech.
Nonetheless, Creech said the district is satisfied with the outcome of its construction contracts and is excited to move forward with the projects.
“We felt that they were within reason enough, plus the timing to get them done within the same time and be able to install those energy-efficient windows worked perfectly,” said Creech.
Full construction on the Hanford High School Campus is expected to start over the summer break.