If you have driven by Somers Middle School lately you may have wondered why you can’t see any progress on the building project. Despite the fact that not a shovel of dirt has been turned on the campus a lot of work is being done in the background.
Following the passage of the Bond last October a Design Oversight Committee was formed to work with the architects in planning the final layout of the additions and renovations to the Middle School. Beginning last November through May of 2018, this group provided input and feedback on the building plans. With the architects’ willingness to listen carefully to a variety of insights and incorporate suggestions from many individuals, a design was created that would meet the needs of our students, educators, and community for many years.
In early June it was discovered that the soils along the hillside and lower parking area are unsuitable for building. The soil testing showed that the area south of the 1993 wing is basically “quicksand”. In the geo-tech’s assessment, if there were a seismic event the two-story addition planned for the south side of the existing building would sink by as much as 18 inches, whereas the existing wing may sink by 6 inches. This differential settling would likely cause the entire structure to collapse.
The new wing could be stabilized by adding 100-200 vibratory stone columns to support the new structure and reinforcing the existing hillside. This would add at least $1,000,000.00 to the construction costs and create construction delays as well.
It was determined that the best course of action was to abandon the current plans and redesign an entirely new addition to be located on the east side of the property where soils are better. Both Swank, the General Contractor/Construction Manager, and LPW Architects committed to accomplishing this without additional cost to the District.
This new two-story addition will include all the features of the previous plan, such as a new full-sized gymnasium, new kitchen and commons areas, an amphitheater, larger spaces for the library and shop, a science lab, a maker space, additional classrooms to accommodate more students, upgrades to the main school office area, and building wide security enhancements.
To assure that the new plans are consistent with the language of the bond question approved by the voters, the District consulted with Dan Semmens, the attorney from Dorsey & Whitney who helped write the bond question. The District also consulted with Kris Goss, an attorney from the Montana School Boards Association and Megan Morris, an expert on public construction law at Kaleva Law in Missoula. The consensus among these three legal experts is that the new plans for additions and renovations to the Middle School campus are consistent with the bond language.
Although the start of construction has been delayed until the spring of 2019, the completion date for the project is still projected to be August of 2020. The two older sections of the current school will be demolished upon completion of the addition, with that section of the property converted to parking and drop off/pick up areas. The current south wing, built in 1993 will be remodeled and re-purposed.
Main Floor Plan
Upper Floor Plan