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Pearson gears for renovation finish

POULSBO — “It’s like monster school in here!” shouted an employee of Belfair-based construction firm Beisley, Inc., over the sounds of electrical saws and other pieces of machinery.

Phase II of Pearson Elementary’s renovation project has been in full swing all summer, one that has the ambitious goal of completing construction by the start of school Sept. 8.

And while likening the North Kitsap School District’s Pearson renovation to the Discovery Channel’s construction reality series “MonsterHouse” — where speedy and thorough renovations are completed by each show’s end — is slightly exaggerated, the crew from Beisley has indeed been working around the clock.

The district’s oldest school has not gone without its share of snags on its way to being remodeled. After the school’s phase I remodel, completed almost two years ago, it was revealed that the then-contractor on the project, Granquist Inc., was operating with fraudulent performance bonds. The school, which is housed in two separate buildings, needed a new contractor for the second “upper building” phase.

In April, the school district went to bid the project and received further unwelcome news: contractor bids were half a million dollars higher than had been anticipated, cutting into the bottom line of NKSD’s 2001 $60 million voter-approved bond.

The increased price of renovation — which grew by nearly a million dollars to its present $5 million price tag since the initial bond estimates — can be attributed to several factors, NKSD Capital Programs Manager Dennis Burch said.

“It’s an awkward size — it’s not a really big project but it’s not a really small project either,” Burch said. “Steel prices and mechanical unit prices went up as well. A lot can happen in two years.”

The first phase of renovation completed the lower building, comprised of classrooms and the school’s gym. It added seismic upgrades, a new boiler and chiller system and many interior improvements. The current phase by Beisley Inc., is connecting the upper building — which houses the library, administrative offices and a few classrooms — into the new boiler and chiller systems, as well as providing seismic upgrades and interior improvements.

If all goes well, Pearson’s personnel will be able to begin moving into the upper building’s offices by the school’s start. Though long overdue, Burch commented, the district will breathe a collective sigh of relief once all work at the school is completed.

“We’re going to be very happy when its done,” Burch said.

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