Salem HS Project

An architect’s rendering of the future entrance to the renovated Salem High School. The project is to go out to bid in December and break ground in the spring, with completion projected for August 2022.

The Salem High School renovation, one of the city’s biggest capital projects in years, will be advertised for bid in December with the hope of staying under an estimated $36 million budget.

Members of Salem’s school board and city council, along with administrators, met Tuesday to discuss the project’s timetable and funding. Project designer RRMM Architects also participated.

Officials expect to open bids in January and break ground between May and June. Completion is projected for August 2022.

The architecture firm highlighted possible reasons for concern about the bidding climate, according to its presentation to the council and school board. A highly inflationary construction market over the last year, and variances between the historical costs of renovation versus new construction projections are among causes for concern, according to the firm.

But the firm listed reasons for cautious optimism, such as area contractors showing eagerness for the project, and the project team carefully managing the scope of the work.

The Salem City Council approved a tax increase this summer to help finance the borrowing the city will need to pay for the renovation.

Salem Superintendent Alan Seibert said the school division has about $2.6 million on hand for the project. Officials built up the cash in recent years through the use of the fund balance, Seibert said. The school system will use that funding to cover the cost of design fees, new furniture and fixtures.

Once the city receives bids, it can negotiate with the low bidder.

Students will remain in the school during the renovation. Seibert said the school system will avoid using modular classroom units, or trailers.

Salem will work with the contractor to plan work in phases to limit the impact on students.

“It’s going to be challenging but exciting at the same time,” Seibert said.

The high school, built in the late 1970s, has a wide range of needs that can impact the learning climate. Seibert said the school system wants to expand classroom and corridor space to account for enrollment projections.

Salem looks forward to improving the actual climate inside the school, too, Seibert said.

The project includes upgrades to the heating and cooling systems, and providing more natural light inside the building. About 55% of the school’s roof is also set for replacement.

The renovation calls for several changes related to security. Crews will tear down the main office and create a new front entrance.

Salem plans to begin advertising for project bids on Dec. 8.

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