The expansion facility envisioned for Central High School now has a construction contractor and a more specific price tag.
During its meeting Friday, the Phenix City Board of Education unanimously approved Freeman & Associates Inc. of Columbus to construct the 34,000-square-foot building. Freeman's bid for $3,296,335 was the lowest of the four submitted, according to board documents.
The other companies that competed for the job are: Thayer-Bray Construction Co. LLC of Phenix City, which bid $3,519,000; CAM Builders LLC of Hatchechubbee, which bid $3,435,049; and First Team Construction Co. Inc. of Auburn, which bid $3,576,000.
Superintendent Randy Wilkes said after the meeting he is pleased with the contract price because he expected the facility to cost around $110 per square foot and it will be around $97 per square foot.
The facility will comprise classrooms, an indoor artificial turf practice field, strength and conditioning stations, two batting cages, a training room, locker rooms and storage. Construction is expected to start March 1 and finish Dec. 15. The facility will be built between the softball field's centerfield fence and the gym.
"It will give our student athletes and those that participate in extracurricular activities the opportunity to excel, no matter what the weather is doing, what the climate is like," superintendent Randy Wilkes said after the meeting.
Without such a facility, he said, student athletes are "literally running in the halls" of the school when the weather doesn't allow them to practice outside.
"Especially for strength and conditioning," Wilkes added, "I think it will be used before school, during school, every period of the day, and after school."
The facility also could be open on the weekends for youth sports, Wilkes said. "We'd extend it to the city for their use," he said. "I mean, we're in this thing together."
The practice field will be about 50 yards long. The batting cages will be electronic and descend from the ceiling. The state-of-the-art equipment for at least 16 stations will make weight training safer, Wilkes said, because the current setup is too congested.
The furniture, fixtures and equipment will be bid separately from the construction contract and could total an additional $700,000, on the high side, Wilkes said.
Hecht Burdeshaw of Columbus is the facility's architect as well as the $2.1 million Dyer Family STEM Center being built at Phenix City Intermediate School. The construction contractor is CAM Builders.
The more than 40 inches of rain since the center's construction began in October has put project six weeks behind schedule, Wilkes said. So the targeted opening to coincide with the start of the 2016-17 school year in August won't happen, unless the pace can quicken during the dryer weather, he said.
Since announcing its $1.1 million goal seven months ago, the Friends of Phenix City has raised approximately $766,000 from a total of 190 donors to help for these capital projects, Wilkes said.
"We've got some other large donors contemplating their level of interest," he said.
The Hughston Clinic donated an undisclosed amount for the training room at the Central High expansion facility, Wilkes said.
"It will help us with the preventative measures we need and also the rehab we need," he said. "As Jack Hughston (Memorial Hospital) expands, and they start bringing in people, it's going to give them a good facility to work on our kids."
The board unanimously approved the superintendent's recommendation to appoint the committee that will determine the next science and driver education textbooks Phenix City will use. The teachers and parents representing each school are:
Central High: Meredith Curtis and Lativia Rivers.
Central Freshman Academy: Courtney Hughes and Tameka Mack.
South Girard: Evelyn Sumbry and April Harrison.
PCIS: Kelley Suchman, Ciciley Nelson-Dixon and Latonya Taylor.
Lakewood Primary: Meredith Walters and Katina Adams.
Lakewood Elementary: Tanja Smith and Kelli Sharpe.
Meadowlane: Sherlita Gilchrist and Alexandria Chambers.
PCES: James Dunkle and Randy Evans.
Ridgecrest: Shelia Owens and Terry Miles.
Sherwood: Sherri Smith and Erin Fisher.
Westview: June Wiley, Shondell Duncan and Tomickya Moore.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.