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Turlock Unified to revisit Child Nutrition Education Center design
Original project scope found to be over-budget
Child Nutrition 2
The scope of the design for Turlock Unified School Districts Child Nutrition Center will have to be realigned after bids came in over the $2 million budget. - photo by Photo Contributed

In what Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees called a “learning experience,” two construction bids for the new Child Nutrition Education Center were rejected Tuesday after the project was found to cost a considerable amount more than what the district had originally anticipated.


“We only had two contractors show up with bids and both bids were significantly higher than our budget,” said Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth.


Soiseth said TUSD had a “good showing” of contractors and subcontractors during a mandatory walk of the facility on Nov. 21, but only two bids for the Child Nutrition Education Center were received and opened on Nov. 29. Acme Construction submitted a base bid of about $4 million, while Simile Construction submitted a base bid of $3.1 million — both of which were drastically above the $2 million budget the district set aside for construction.


“I think a couple of reasons is that we enhanced the scope from what we originally started to where we were when we went to bid,” said architect Gary Mallory with FF&J Architects. “Things were added into the project and the budget wasn’t adjusted accordingly. We just need to revisit those items and I think we can make everything work.”


Mallory said some additions that contributed to the different price were a loading dock on the north side of the building, a conference room and elevated loading area on the south side of the building, and enhancements to the food preparation areas.


“We just said let’s see if we can get this project built with these enhancements at that $2 million,” said Soiseth. “To be honest, I thought we could. I really did. But I was enlightened and jolted back into the reality of where we are at.


“I realize that I was probably a little optimistic,” added Soiseth.


TUSD moved forward with finding a new location for its Central Kitchen Facility, which is currently housed at Dutcher Middle School, after it made the decision in March of last year to move Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy’s dual immersion sixth graders onto the middle school campus. The TUSD Board of Trustees authorized a Purchase and Sale Agreement the following December between the District and New Life Christian Center for property located at 1901 Auto Mall Drive, which was a former Subaru dealership.


“I do believe we will still have a great facility, even with the things we need to scale back,” said Soiseth. “We will start the process over again and advertise and go out to bid again.”


TUSD Board of Trustees voted to reject both bids for the Child Nutrition Education Center on Tuesday and Soiseth said the next steps are to start the process over again, including revisiting the design, advertising and going out to bid. Soiseth said that he still hopes that the center will be ready in time to open its doors before the next school year; however, he is unsure of how Tuesday’s action will affect the anticipated completion date.


“It’s a real problem with public projects because the fewer people you have bid, the higher the price, but we’re going to have to work within those parameters,” said Trustee Frank Lima. “But I’m looking forward to this project being scaled back so we can move forward.”