Construction plans for the Ballard Middle School took a large step forward over the last two weeks.

After a presentation from Haila Architects at last Monday’s regular monthly meeting, the board likely dismissed the option of constructing a new building next to the high school, due mostly to the overall cost of the proposed project.

Sam Stagg, principal for Haila Architecture of Ames, presented architectural drawings of a 76,000 square foot new middle school building that would connect to the southwest side of the high school. The existing middle school is around 96,000 square feet.

Some of the benefits of a brand new building, as opposed to a renovation of the existing middle school, include: shared auditorium and media center space, energy efficiency, centralized locations for district offices and bus drop-offs, natural daylight in every classroom, and a faster timeframe for total completion, with minimal disruptions to normal education activities.

The proposed cost of a new building was estimated at over $21 million, which would have delayed construction by a minimum of five years based on Ballard’s current bonding capacity of roughly $16 million. Renovations to the existing middle school are estimated between $14 million and $16 million.

“We can say, with confidence, that we can’t afford a new building,” said Steve Domino, board president, following the presentation. Domino’s thoughts were agreed with by the rest of the board and by Superintendent Ottie Maxey, which allows the board to move forward with plans to renovate the existing structure.

In a special, closed-door meeting on April 23, the board met to interview three construction management companies as they began to formulate final plans for a bond referendum this fall.

Interviews were conducted with Estes Construction, Stahl Construction, and Story Construction. The board focused on topics such as fees, experience and relationship history.

Estes Construction is based out of Davenport, with an office in West Des Moines. They have done numerous K-12 projects including work with the Pella Community School District, as well as the Clinton, Knoxville and Davenport school districts.

Stahl Construction is headquartered in Minneapolis, with an Iowa office in Urbandale. Stahl recently completed the new Johnston High School, which was a $74 million project.

Story Construction is based out of Ames and has worked on numerous, local school projects including multiple buildings with the Ankeny Community School District, as well as Bondurant-Farrar and Norwalk.

Ballard’s next regularly scheduled monthly meeting will be held Monday, May 21 in the Ballard High School Media Center.