Mt. Vernon Register-News

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May 14, 2013

Architect says new high school project 'on budget'

MT. VERNON — — MT. VERNON — Nearing the end of the design development stage for the new Mt. Vernon Township High School, the architect in charge of the project told the Building Committee on Monday night the project is on budget.

Greg Brown of FGM Architects said the design team and civil engineers will be wrapping up design development by the end of the week.

"Things look surprisingly well," Brown said. "In two more weeks we'll be working with the administration team in looking at the academies, data connections and maintenance. Right now, we're still within the budget."

Officials have placed the project cost at $72.8 million, with $48 million (60 percent) coming from the Capital Development Board and the local share of $27.7 million (33.9 percent). Voters approved a $19.8 bond referendum, with local officials raising the remaining funds through other means.

"Our ultimate plan is through the sale of property and so on is to get to $72 million," explained Board President Carl Miller. "If we can't get to the $72 million, we'll have to decide what cuts to make." The $72 million estimate doesn't include alternate bids for other amenities associated with the project.

The city has promised up to $2.4 million for off site city utilities, which is also considered an in-kind donation toward the overall project. If the high school does not sell any of its current buildings, an estimate of $1.8 million was provided for demolition, which has actually decreased from an earlier $2.2 million estimate, according to Brown.

"The market is crazy. We've heard of projects being under bid, over bid and those right on budget," Brown said. "Luckily, this is a larger project and that helps. It should keep forces busy for a long time. We won't know until bid day where we're at, but we hope to get as many bidders as we can. The lower number of bidders you have might bust the budget."

Brown indicated that bidding will begin in November and the first bids — for site work, steel and concrete — will be awarded in December. Other bids will be received through January.

Brown indicated the school has been designed to equip 1,500 students in 900 square feet classrooms, or 30 students per classroom. He added the enrollment could go up as many as 500 students without any additional space needed, although he reported there is plenty of additional space on the campus for expansion.

The cafeteria will seat 500, which could be expanded to 600; and the gym will have 1,850 to 1,995 seats, depending upon the number of chair backs the administration wants. Changnon Gym currently has 600 chair backs, it was reported. Seating in the theater will be limited to 650. The total square footage for the proposed campus now stands at 310,000 square feet, with officials attempting to find another 10,000 square feet to eliminate.

The outside sports facility can accommodate up to 2,000 patrons on the home side and 500 on the visitors side.

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