Project Narrative - Arlee Joint School District

Project Start Date - Project Start Date - Notice of award/ Funding - Early 2022

RFQ - Design Build Team solicitation - February 13th' 2022 

Design Build Team Selection - March 13th, 2022

New Building Team Design Development Delivery - Summer 2022

Review and approval - June 2022

Team Construction/ Bid - June 2022       

Documents Underground/ -September 2022

Foundation  Construction - October 2022

Building Construction Complete - Fall 2023

Project Description : The Arlee Upper Elementary School building was erected in 1936 and contains numerous problems including problems with the heating and ventilation systems, major electrical systems, building envelope, environmental hazards, and accessibility .

The upper elementary serves grades 3-6 and houses the music, Salish language and Indian Studies classrooms as well as the elementary school library . Since 2009, the lower elementary K-2, cafeteria, and gymnasium have been located a quarter mile away across campus in a newer facility; the students in grades 3-6 must walk across campus multiple times a day for physical education class and lunch, crossing parking areas and driving lanes in all weather conditions. The students in grades K- 2 must walk across campus the other direction for music class, Salish language and Indian studies classes, to visit the library, crossing the same dangerous zones all year. Beyond the safety threats, this amount of walking detracts from instructional time every day. While this is not an "emergency condition," it is certainly a major drawback to the setup of the entire elementary school, K-6.

The upper elementary building's heat is provided by the high school's boiler room. If a shutdown occurs the upper elementary will be negatively affected. The upper elementary does not have a back -up heating system. In the past three biennial legislative sessions, the district has applied for and been listed as a recipient of a Montana Department of Commerce Quality Schools Grant Program. These funds would have assisted the district in repairing and/or replacing the aging system if the grant program had been funded by the state legislature, which it repeatedly was not . The independent assessment of the facilities agrees with previous professional assessments discussed in the Independent Certification that this system is well beyond its useful life and therefore should be replaced.  The cost of adding a heating and ventilation system to the elementary school would require a budget that is approaching 70% of the cost of construction to build an entirely new upper elementary school.

The Emergency condition is multifaceted and includes life, safety & well-being components including heating and ventilation systems, major electrical systems, building envelope, environmental hazards, and accessibility.

First Emergency Condition: heating and ventilation systems. These systems need replacements. All the components coming from the high school system are beyond their useful life. The building does not have a back-up heating system of its own and relies solely on the high school heating plant; should this fail, the high school's back-up boiler is insufficient to heat both buildings.

Second Emergency Condition: electrical system. The system has been added on and expanded beyond the original intended capacity, creating a fire/life safety issue. Furthermore, any repairs or upgrades will require the district to disturb or penetrate walls containing asbestos, creating another health and safety threat.

Third Emergency Condition: the building envelope . This is also showing signs of failure and will continue to decay unless major upgrades and renovations are completed, from windows and doors to roof to wall connections. There are gaps between walls and ceiling and around window housings. The presence of vermiculite insulation in the walls any repairs will require substantial cost for remediation that would cause major project budget problems. In a recent incident the school experienced a roof leak over the music room. In looking at the repair, black mold was discovered and the clean up cost was not achievable for the building and it’s age. The room was closed off and eliminated from use so we were forced to move our music program from the building into a small classroom not conducive to music instruction. 

Fourth Emergency Condition: Path of travel accessibility. Building entries, exits and bathrooms are not accessible. Moreover, proximity to required district services is limited . One of the greatest concerns remains that as the building is located across a parking lot and vehicular traffic patterns and it is isolated from the rest of the district's campus which frustrates attempts to provide the effective, real-time supervision of students moving around campus. The final Emergency Condition would be the lack of code required accessibility, including site access, building entries/exits and accessible routes to public spaces including accessible bathrooms. With the district having a sloped grade, the lack of proper code compliant ramps and railings are an additional concern for those requiring wheelchair accessibility.

The Emergency Condition adversely affects the health, safety and well-being of occupants of the school. These effects include the lack of adequately ventilated air, the presence of harmful pollutants, and accessibility.

The heating and ventilation system, as one of the main Emergency Conditions, would alone justify the consideration for this grant. The health, safety and well-being of the occupants, from students to staff, is negatively affected due to the possible exposure to materials containing asbestos. 

The electrical systems are being taxed by the increase in required technology for today's education requirements. In 1936, 1963 and even in 1981 the building was renovated and expanded to accommodate the needs of the district but the basic infrastructures have yet to be updated. Current equipment and demands have increased loads on the system, which has been haphazardly expanded beyond its capacity. This coupled with execution of extended supply creates a fire/ life safety issue. The Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety indicates that overloaded electrical systems can lead to fires, "electrical fires regularly result in a high percentage of property damage that caused by other sources, such as unattended cigarettes and candles" {­ 'J.l. . The life, safety and well-being of the occupants, from students to staff, are concerns because of these overloaded panels and the lack of a fire sprinkler system. Current NFPA codes would require the installation of a Fire Sprinkler System because of the rural nature of the school district's location. Increased fire danger due to electrical, in conjunction with the lack of fire suppression comprises Emergency Condition #2.

Building Envelope - Major renovations of all systems are required to allow the district to continue to function at a level that is expected by the state of Montana and the community of Arlee. The health, safety and well-being of the occupants, from students to staff, is threatened by a lack of

code-required air ventilation and a concern about airborne  contaminants. With asbestos materials present in the walls, floor, ceilings and in the heating and ventilation system, as well as the infiltration of coal dust and potential boiler exhaust, all of which are trapped without  code  minimum  ventilation air. The need for a system replacement is undeniable.

Building and code required accessibility - The door swings and classroom amenities are lacking any code-required accessible features. The district's large size necessitates accessibility to all district amenities. The replacement of the upper elementary will allow the entire community of Arlee to use and enjoy the district's facilities the entire year without the need to travel ¼ mile from building to building.

The amount of square footage to be added to the school facility would be none. The recommendation and justification to replace the upper elementary building has been provided. A new 20,000 square foot 21st century school will be placed adjacent to the newest building on campus, the lower elementary building and adjacent to all other district amenities. The overall square footage for the upper elementary would be reduced. The current upper elementary uses approximately 37,000 square feet, while a new, modern building would require 17,000 square feet less to provide a better educational experience for the students of Arlee. The reduction of square footage is based on right sizing the building for the student population. National averages are 200 square feet per student, Arlee has 173, 3-6 graders and would require 21,625 square feet of space.

The age of the systems associated with this project requires complete replacement of mechanical heating and ventilation systems, both wet and dry, vintages 1936, 1963 and 1981; electrical systems (outlets and main feeders), vintages 1936, 1963, 1981 as well as minor upgrades up to present day; plumbing fixtures, vintages 1936, 1963; and windows, doors and building envelope, vintages 1936, 1963, 1981.

The actions the Arlee School District has taken to respond to the emergency is a piece by piece approach,  simply trying to repair failing components when the budget allows. Eight decades addressing major and minor building issues in a reactionary repair mode instead of a preventative repair mode is to virtually guarantee the need for a new building.

The proposed project will address the Emergency Conditions by replacing the failing upper elementary building with a new 2lst century school designed to meet all the current codes associated with public buildings.

The proposed project will be to construct a new 21,625 square foot building that will accommodate the 3-6 grade classes of Arlee School District. The building will be placed adjacent to the newest building on campus which houses the Kindergarten through second grade and adjacent to the multipurpose building and lunch room. The budget will include dollars for removal of the existing upper elementary building.