Bids came in higher than expected, but through a few cost-saving measures, Brainerd School Board members approved construction contracts for the Nisswa Elementary School project with everything administration hoped to include.

Project managers originally budgeted just under $9.1 million for construction on a classroom addition and upgrades to Nisswa, but the base bids at last month's bid opening came in at nearly $9.4 million.

Brandon Kellerman, of ICS Consulting, told the board of minor cuts made to help save money without compromising the project. These cuts include a different ceiling tile, changing to latex paint, switching from tile to vinyl flooring on stairways, and changing the brand of roofing materials. Kitchen equipment was slightly reduced, as Kellerman said the current salad bar still has life left in it, and exterior window awnings were eliminated, as windows will already be treated with sun control measures.

All of these cuts put the base bid about $18,000 under budget, Kellerman said, noting that didn't include any alternate, or additional projects, which would cost extra to include. But because the construction bids for Harrison Elementary School came in about $1 million lower than estimated and Baxter Elementary about $2.5 million, even with all alternate projects, there's room in the budget for higher costs at Nisswa.

Kellerman gave the board three bid options to move forward with.

• Option 1: Add additional classrooms and upgrade the parking lot with minimal changes to help traffic flow-$297,000 over budget.

• Option 2: Option 1 plus adding an east parking lot with 50 spaces, a fully adhered roof, replacing several windows and replacing shingles on library-$725,000 over budget.

• Option 3: Option 2 plus adding fencing around the playground, resurfacing the ball field and adding thicker mat flooring to the gym-$781,000 over budget.

The shingles on the library roof have about 10 years of life left in them, Kellerman said, but would only be about an $11,000 expense with this project, while the price could go up in the future. Board members, however, agreed to nix that item.

"I just think of my own house, and if I had shingles that were good for another 10 years, there's no way I'd spend that money now to replace them because you're just shortening their lifespan," board member Ruth Nelson said, adding that expense could easily fit into the long-term facilities maintenance budget in the future.

Shingles aside, Nisswa Principal Molly Raske advocated for Option 3, noting the possibility of Nisswa having to make cuts and work inside a tight budget is difficult to see, especially with other schools-like Harrison, Baxter and Forestview-getting everything they want just because bids came in lower. She added she sees the need for additional classrooms and a parking lot to accommodate more students and families.

Board members agreed, ultimately approving Option 3 with the exception of the new library shingles.

"It's unfortunate that the bids came in higher in Nisswa, but I don't want to shortchange Nisswa," board member Bob Nystrom said. "We're going to build a great school in Baxter, and I think Nisswa should be the same way."

The board awarded the following contracts for roughly $10.2 million.

• Earthwork/improvements/utilities-Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd, $301,194.

• Concrete-Kassella Concrete of Pierz, $281,611.

• Precast concrete-Wells Concrete Products of Wells, $187,500.

• Masonry-Johnson-Nelson Masonry of Ashby, $606,400.

• General construction-Hy-Tec Construction of Brainerd, $3.2 million.

• Roofing-Thelen Heating & Roofing of Brainerd, $156,000.

• Aluminum entrances and glazing-Northern Glass & Glazing of Bloomington, $503,900.

• Flooring, MCI of Waite Park, $376,250.

• Athletic resilient flooring, Anderson Ladd of Minneapolis, $78,600.

• Acoustical ceilings-DOW Acoustics of Detroit Lakes, $170,492.

• Food service equipment-Culinex of Fargo, N.D., $264,130.

• Fire protection-Summit Companies of Waite Park, $163,250.

• Plumbing-Weidner Plumbing and Heating of St. Cloud, $776,500.

• Heating, ventilation and air conditioning-Thelen Heating & Roofing of Brainerd, $1.9 million.

• Electrical-Design Electrical of St. Cloud, $1.25 million.

In other business Monday, the school board:

Approved Tamela Langer as the new district accountant.

Approved the following resignations: Tracy Kjeldergaard, special education at Baxter Elementary; Brenda Klinger, special education paraprofessional at Garfield Elementary School; and Cassandra Brodin, second grade teacher at Garfield, non-renewal.

Approved requests for the following additional positions: Adult basic education teacher, 22 hours a week; additional 25 hours of duty days in the summer for the lead adult basic education teacher; and additional five hours a week for the adult basic education secretary.

Approved a field trip request for the Brainerd FFA Chapter to go to the Minnesota State FFA Convention April 28-30 at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Approved design development documents for Brainerd High School.