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School district brokers $25M contract for new Tonopah elementary

Nye County School District trustees will negotiate a $25 million contract with Texas-based CORE Construction to build a new Tonopah Elementary School.

The project has been years in the making, but trustees voted Thursday to proceed with an agreement that will bring the school to fruition.

“I think it’s more than a school building,” Joe Schmidt, director of maintenance/operations, safety/security for the district, said on Thursday. “It’s a commitment” to the Tonopah community.

Behind the delays

While a new school in Tonopah has been talked about since 2015, officials say the current iteration began in May of 2021. Since that time, officials say the project has taken on differing design modalities, shapes and locations on the site.

The pandemic caused financial upheaval in nearly all sectors of the construction industry.

Financial constraint coupled with unstable inflation predictions not only caused delay, officials said, but it necessitated every efficiency that could be mustered.

Budget matters

In early 2023, when the decision was made to move some of the labor off site by utilizing a modular mode of construction, and to adjust the location of the building, the project became feasible. All aspects of the program were achievable and the project is expected to remain within budgetary parameters.

“What we have is a project within our budget,” Schmidt said.

Elements of the new school will be built mostly offsite by manufacturers in a controlled-setting warehouse and then trucked to Tonopah to be assembled there, officials say, saving the district millions in labor costs, materials and time on a project that would otherwise likely be delayed by weather.

The pre-fabricated modules look like “regular construction” and have steel-framed bodies, Schmidt told the board in May 2023, adding that some school districts in northern California have used the approach to keep construction costs down there.

The project is expected to relocate the town’s elementary school from Idaho Circle to a 5.5-acre site at 1 Ray Tennant Drive near the high school.

The move will essentially create a centralized academic campus in Tonopah, serving pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Preliminary renderings of the new Tonopah Elementary call for a playground in the back of the facility, two parking lots, and a bus drop-off lane. It’s also expected to include a library, along with nine classrooms for pre-K through fifth-grade students, and separate classrooms for art, music and special education instruction.

General Contractor CORE Construction is the No. 2 builder of schools in the country.

Las Vegas-based Knit Studios is the architect of the project.

Trustees voted unanimously on Thursday, with board chair Bryan Wulfenstein abstaining from commenting and voting on the contract.

“I am an active bidder on the project,” disclosed Wulfenstein, who serves as construction manager for Wulfenstein Construction.

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