The Helix School Board changed its goals for the new classrooms to be built from the $1.4 million school bond voters passed last November. It's going from stick-built to modular.

The addition will be a separate building on the north side of the school, which will house two classrooms for kindergarten and special education.

Originally, the district wanted a conventional "stick built" addition, but the district's first two tries for bids came in costing too much.

So last week board members toured modular buildings in Umatilla and Wednesday heard presentations from Williams Scotsman and Modern Building Systems, the two modular building companies that constructed buildings at Umatilla schools.

The two presentations were very different from one another.

Greg Pfeiffer, account manager with Williams Scotsman, brought a PowerPoint presentation listing goals and practices and photos of buildings his company has built across the Northwest. His primary sales pitch was time savings - saying his company could build the structure off-site at the same time the site is prepared, then bring the building in and hook everything up. He also called Williams Scotsman an "education company"; he said about 75 percent of the company's projects are education-related.

Duane Harris, project manager with Modern Building Systems, didn't bring any formal presentations. Instead, he sat down with board members and answered questions. He called his company a "one-stop shop" because all work is done in-house, not through contractors. He said his company would align the project with the board's goals and with what the board could spend.

Both men said their companies could include a facade to the modular building to make sure it blend with the old ones, even using brick.

Both also said there would be a quality assurance checkup a year or so after the building is completed.

After touring Umatilla schools and hearing the presentations, several board members said they were surprised with the quality of the modular buildings.

"I was skeptical," board member Friday Bracher said. "But I was happy (with what I?saw)."

"With what we've seen and heard, I was pretty impressed,"?agreed board member Todd Thorne.

The board decided - but did not make a formal motion - to have David McKay, program director for Willamette Education Service District, put out a call for proposals on a modular building. The district will establish some minimum standards, such as energy efficiency and quality of materials.

The board expects drawings from companies with their proposals.

As Thorne put it, "I want to see what it's going to look like."

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