Vision For School Buildings $4 Million Too High

Initial estimate of reworking Rim Country Middle School buildings over budget

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An additional $4 million needs to be found to accomplish the re-construction the district wants done at Rim Country Middle School.

The budget for the work at Rim Country Middle School is not $4 million short, but the district wants certain things done that surpass the amount originally allocated to the school. The Rim Country Middle School's portion of that bond was originally $7.5 million, but preliminary costs are projected to exceed that number by $4 million, unless changes are made.

"The bond total is good," Tim Brand, with Pinnacle One said. "But each school's construction costs are different, and with what the district wants done at Rim Country Middle School, we need to supplement the budget to be able to accomplish that."

On Nov. 7, 2006, voters approved a $33.8-million bond issue to allow new construction and renovations at Payson's schools.

Members of the board discussed preliminary cost estimates by Pinnacle One Construction Consulting firm at a special board meeting Wednesday.

Preliminary cost estimates were provided for Rim Country Middle School and Julia Randall Elementary School.

Board member Mike Horton asked where the added costs at Rim Country Middle School were coming from.

Soft costs, including licenses, permits and other fees, along with desired additions and improvements at Rim Country Middle School, are responsible for the augmented costs, Brand said.

"The additional money comes from things like earthwork, new electrical fixtures, steel canopies over walkways, closed circuit television, network equipment for computers, intercoms, cabling and wireless service at the school," he said.

"Look at it like this, when you buy a car, you give the dealer a list of the things you want, like leather upholstery, custom wheels, and a stereo. The dealer comes back to you and tells you, you can only have certain items and stay within your budget," Brand said after the meeting.

Brand said that is the case at Rim Country Middle School.

District Superintendent Casey O'Brien said, "We have some options we can consider here, for example, maybe we could find savings at some of the other schools and use that to supplement the construction budget at Rim Country."

Brand agreed that substituting construction materials might cut costs at some of the other schools.

"The steel canopies over the new walkways at Rim Country could be switched to a cloth-type material," Brand said.

"And instead of metal roofs at Julia Randall, we could use shingles," he added.

Not building a new gymnasium at Julia Randall Elementary, as originally proposed, was also discussed as a possible source of supplemental funds for Rim Country school.

PUSD Business Manager Bobbette Sylvester said using the new cafeteria as a combination cafeteria and gymnasium could save $850,000.

That money could then be used at Rim Country Middle School.

O'Brien voiced concern over that idea.

"The gymnasium at Julia Randall would be the only full-size gym at any of our elementary schools and it could be used by the community and students for events, as well," he said.

O'Brien said he was in favor of making changes and substitutions, if they would allow savings without compromising the scope of the construction.

Allison Suriano, with the district's general contractor W.E. O'Neil, said that to provide the board with more precise construction and renovation estimates, the project would need to move into the design development phase and asked the board for approval.

Brand said that allowing the project to move into the design development phase would also allow them to begin value engineering.

He said value engineering is a process by which designers and architects can make substitutions and changes to provide the best value for the cost.

The board unanimously approved the request to move to the design development phase.

Pinnacle One will provide the board with new estimates, which will include value engineering to try and reduce costs, in about two weeks.

Other items discussed by the board included:

The board unanimously approved the Payson High School senior trip to Disneyland May 29.

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