Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 31, 2013

MVTHS looks at cutting costs

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon Township High School officials may have some difficult choices ahead of them regarding the new school project.

Implementing numerous cost-saving measures and reducing the size of the new school by 15,000 square feet would bring the project in line with budgetary estimates.

However, cutting the square footage by that much could also jeopardize grant funding and require a major redesign, said Superintendent Michael Smith. No firm decisions have yet been made on this issue.

“If we get into a redesign of the facility, then we could wind up, in effect, having to rebid all the work categories,” Smith said.

The MVTHS Board of Education reviewed all the cost-saving options currently available for the new school at a special board meeting Monday night.

Consultants with FGM Architects and McCarthy presented a lengthy list of alternatives. Board members then offered their opinions on the feasibility of each option. The meeting lasted for more than four hours.

Some examples of cost-saving measures included changing the design of the theater orchestra, using plaster coating instead of brick on portions of the wall insulation, using another material besides ground face block for the interior walls and many others.

Earlier this month, bids were received and opened for roughly 25 work categories being bid out for the new school.

The total number of bids came in at about $6 million over-budget, which prompted consultants to analyze how modifications could be made to reduce the project cost.

Chris Nisbet, project director for McCarthy, said Monday any rebidding for this project would have to begin in February so the new school could be finished by July 2015.

Nisbet also recommended the district prioritize aspects of the construction.

For example, the main campus and the gymnasium should be the top priorities to be opened by July 2015, Nisbet said. The secondary priorities, he said, could be the theater and the Career Technical Education facility.

“I think that we need to have a plan so that the crews, so that the workforce, can prioritize and get done what really, really needs to get done in that school,” Nisbet said.

Some board members questioned whether a delay would be acceptable with the CTE building since classes would be held there.

A firm schedule for rebidding has not yet been approved.

Now that the cost-saving options have been examined, Chief Architect Greg Brown will make further calculations and come back to the board with firm numbers.

The MVTHS Building Committee will hold its next regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 to continue discussions on the new school.