Estimate for new high school $7.8 million over budget

Thursday, July 15, 2010 | 11:27 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The estimate for Columbia Public Schools' new high school is $7.8 million over its $75 million budget. Hours after breaking ground on the school off St. Charles Road, the Columbia School Board tried to sort through this news at a meeting Thursday evening.

One factor affecting the budget is the school’s $2.9 million road project, which adds a west arterial road, an east-west connector road and a stoplight to the property in northeast Columbia. It was not included in the original budget.

Steve Golubski, vice president of construction company JE Dunn, told the board there were 234 bids for the project's 48 bid packages.

“The market is telling us this is what it’s worth right now,” Golubski said.

The district has $138 million budgeted for capital projects, including the high school. The money is coming from a $120 million bond issue approved by voters in April and $18 million left over from a $60 million bond issue approved in 2007.

Overall, the district is $442,000 over the $138 million budget.

The School Board was briefed on the bid status for the high school and on possible cost reductions to the building plan by DLR Group’s Doug Loveland, JE Dunn’s Golubski and Lee Moore, and district director of building services Charlie Oestreich.

Suggested reductions included removing tennis courts, switching building supplies and reducing bleacher seating. Any removed items could be added at a later date, Loveland said.

The new high school is scheduled to open in fall 2013 and will significantly change Columbia’s grade-level structure: All high schools will have grades nine through 12, and middle and junior high schools will be turned into intermediate schools for sixth through eighth grades.

At the 4 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony, sixth-graders joined board members, district administrators, city and county officials and representatives of JE Dunn and DLR Group, both of Kansas City. Mayor Bob McDavid thanked Columbia residents for their involvement in making the new school happen.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to approve the sale of general obligation refunding bonds. The district's chief financial officer, Linda Quinley, told the board the sale saves about $890,000 in interest over the next eight years.

The board also voted 6-to-1, with Ines Segert opposing, to approve hiring an outside firm, as yet undisclosed, to conduct a community perception survey. Public opinions regarding school facilities, communications, governance, academic programs and building climate will be collected via a telephone survey. Eight survey companies put bids in, and three have been interviewed. Of those interviewed, bids ranged from $14,800 to $18,950.

The board plans to meet Aug. 3 to vote on final bid recommendations for the high school project.

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