SHERIDAN — Construction is underway in each of Sheridan County’s three school districts. The projects are at various stages, from bidding to renovations to recent completion.
Sheridan County School District 1
The Tongue River Valley Community Center has taken over plans to construct a pathway connecting the towns of Dayton and Ranchester, according to SCSD1 Superintendent Peter Kilbride.
“We’ll support any way we can,” Kilbride said.
Though it was originally intended to follow Highway 14, there have been proposals that the path follow the course of Tongue River instead. However, such a path may prove more difficult in light of erosion concerns.
The proposed path would run approximately 5 to 6 miles from Dayton to Ranchester and connect to preexisting paths in each town.
The path would be open to the community, but also would be a huge asset for the schools.
“I absolutely do (think students would use it),” Kilbride said. “Rarely a day goes by that there’s not someone on that.”
Sheridan County School District 2
John C. Schiffer Collaborative School
First round contractor bids for the new John C. Schiffer Collaborative School all exceeded the project budget of $7.2 million allocated by the state, according to Sheridan County School District 2 Facilities Director Mathers Heuck. The lowest bid was approximately $9 million.
“We’ve been looking for ways to get that project within budget,” Heuck said. “Some of the things that we’ve done is looked at some finishes. We’ve also taken the square footage down a little bit.”
“We were really careful when we did that, more surgical, because it’s gotta fit our programming,” Heuck said. “Our architect teamed up with an educational consultant and they helped us make sure we weren’t hurting ourselves programmatically.”
Due to the high bid prices, the project has been delayed a year, and the school is now projected to open to students for the Fall 2021 semester.
“But what that does for us is if you give contractors a longer lead time, and a longer construction, that equals savings,” Heuck said. “So it was something we had to do to make it happen.”
“Contractors in this area are really busy. It’s a great problem to have, but some of the pricing that came in from subcontractors appeared pretty high,” Heuck continued. “So the bidding environment in December should be much more favorable, and that’ll hopefully get us within budget.”
The district will begin advertising for bids in early November and will start accepting bids in December.
The new building will have a capacity of 116 students.
Through the interview and selection process, administrators are able to control the number of students at the school.
“I don’t expect it to go to the 116 right away,” Heuck said. “We’re at 50-60 now. That will definitely go up but we won’t get to the 116 for a few years.”
The Schiffer school is beginning its third year of operations on the Sheridan College campus and will now remain for a fourth year.
“We really want to thank the college. They found a way to give us some space for an additional year, which is just huge for us,” Heuck said.
“It’s gonna be an amazing school.”
Renovations of Sagebrush Elementary continue on schedule and on budget, Heuck said.
Contractor O’Dell Construction is working on a 15-month schedule to completely remodel the school and replace all of the HVAC infrastructure.
“The building basically hasn’t been touched since it was built,” said Sean O’Dell of O’Dell construction. “We’re upgrading all the flooring, ceiling, lights, all new cabinetry, upgrades for the whole school.”
“Phase one, which was the kitchen and the boiler, just met substantial completion,” Heuck said. “The kitchen’s being used; the boilers will be ready when we need the heat.”
Phase two involved setting up modular classrooms outside the school. Sagebrush students are currently attending classes in the modules.
Phase three concerns the remainder of the building.
“They redo basically every finish, and then the wiring also needed to be replaced,” Heuck said. “It’s 1986 standards and just undersized,” he explained.
“Structurally, the building’s in great shape,” O’Dell said. “It’s really solid.”
As for phase three, “It’s a renovation of a 33-year-old building, and there’s gonna be some change,” Heuck said. “We’re gonna find something that we didn’t expect, and that’s kind of the nature of the beast. But so far nothing unexpected. Right on budget and right on schedule.”
Sheridan High School auditorium
Renovation of the Sheridan High School auditorium by In-Yarak Construction finished on time and on budget.
“It’s an amazing transformation,” Heuck said. “The ceiling was removed, the upper, the roof part of it was painted a dark blue and so it kind of just disappears and then we put in some sound clouds, and the acoustics in there are dramatically better.”
Contractors also installed curtains at the rear of the auditorium that can be adjusted to meet the acoustic needs of different performance styles.
Hill stabilization work on the slope of Big Goose Creek near Kendrick Park and below Sheridan Junior High School is scheduled to be completed Oct. 15, Heuck said.
Work on the tennis courts near Sheridan High School has also concluded.
Sheridan County School District 3
District 3 is currently seeking bids to replace its phone system after an outage on the first day of fall classes, according to Superintendent Charles Auzqui.
Renovations of the sprinkler system in the bus barn have recently been completed. The project comes after a fire on the bus lot five years ago, Auzqui said.
Plans to construct a new outdoor track are underway as well.
“We’re in the middle of working with the School Facilities Commission to get our track project approved to maybe go out to bid to build that next summer,” Auzqui said.
The makeovers of Sheridan County schools continue into the school year on updated schedules and on budget.