Borough awards contract for K-Selo design report

The bid award will cover a programming phase, value analysis and cost estimate in a not-to-exceed amount of $125,000.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will award a contract to Architects Alaska, Inc. to put together a schematic design, cost estimate and energy consumption report for a new K-12 school facility in Kachemak Selo. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Purchasing and Contracting Office solicited and received proposals for the project from seven firms, according to a Nov. 23 memo from Project Manager Lee Frey to the assembly.

The bid award will cover a programming phase, value analysis and cost estimate in a not-to-exceed amount of $125,000, which Kenai Peninsula Borough Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh said is being funded with money from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District already appropriated in the School Capital Project Fund. That fund is specifically for the areawide design of capital improvements, Harbaugh said.

Efforts to build a new school in the remote community of Kachemak Selo, at the head of Kachemak Bay, have been underway for years. Currently, the school serves 31 students, according to district data, who are housed in residential buildings in disrepair. Among other deficiencies, people are not supposed to be inside the three buildings when there is snow on the roofs, one of which is bowing inward.

Grant funds for the Kachemak Selo project were first approved in 2016 under the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. That agreement requires a 35% local match, meaning the borough would be responsible for about $5.39 million while the state would pay for $10,010,000.

However, the borough and the school district requested earlier this year that the state move the department under which the funds are located, as a way to eliminate that $5 million local match. Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce has previously said that he thinks the borough can build a school in K-Selo for less than $15 million and that he would like to receive $10 million from the state “with no strings attached.”

A previous effort to put the package out to bond was defeated by borough voters. It was added to a list of “critical projects” as defined by the school district in 2020, and again in 2021 after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kachemak Selo was listed as a “Priority A” project by the borough in a presentation given earlier this year. In all, the borough has identified about $64 million in “Priority A” projects, which refer to those facilities that no longer meet the needs of the program it supports, that are deteriorating past regular maintenance and where new construction is necessary.

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