New Blanding Elementary site doesn’t change

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the San Juan School Board held a special meeting on March 26 to hear from district staff regarding the possibility of moving the location of the new Blanding Elementary School.
Following a presentation and closed session to discuss property, members of the board ultimately did not make a change to the new school site.
At the regularly scheduled board meeting on March 6, members of the board directed staff to evaluate the possibility of moving the location of the new school.
At the March 6 meeting the board and district staff heard from several concerned citizens about the currently-approved location.
The undeveloped lot is on the southwest corner opposite from the Blanding Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 800 North.
The board had voted to approve the location on district-owned property in June, 2023 as part of a plan to make the school close to shovel-ready in order to receive a state grant to build the new school.
While the district was awarded $20 million from the state for the new school, some Blanding residents voiced concern about the proposed location of the new building.
Concerns were raised about the estimated $2 million cost to level the slope of the lot, as well as traffic concerns, and hopes that a location closer to the other Blanding public schools might be utilized.
At the March 26 special meeting, School District Business Administrator Tyrel Pemberton outlined steps and possible costs for a potential location move of the new school site.
Among the steps would include an investigation of a new site including a geotechnical engineering report, archeology study and evaluation, hazardous material evaluation, and a site survey. 
Pemberton said that if a new site was selected, the building systems could require a modification or complete redesign if the new site didn’t accommodate the current configuration. He added even if it did accommodate the current configuration, a new site could require would still need additional work done.
Pemberton also said the project would impact timelines for the project. Staff estimated 4-8 weeks for investigative steps, an unknown amount of time for property acquisition, 12-16 weeks for redesign if the new site would accommodate existing design, with 18-24 weeks estimated if the site did not accommodate the existing school design.
District staff also shared that over the past five years, construction costs have escalated by 12 to 13 percent per year. Following that estimation, a six-month construction delay would cost an additional $2.5 to 2.75 million, with a 12 month delay costing al $5 to 5.5 million.
The district also estimated that all investigative activities of a new site would cost $50,000. If the site did accommodate existing designs the district estimated a cost of $250,000 with considerable more if the site didn’t accommodate the existing design.
When asked for clarification, the district said there is no deadline given for the funds received by the state but said the funds were given with the understanding that the project was close to shovel-ready.
Members of the board held a closed session to consider particular sites. 
Board President Lori Maughan clarified that in the process to choose the current site, the district considered the location of the currently standing school, the chosen location, and other options.
No motion was made to consider a new location and no vote taken.

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