Planning for new HS challenged by rising costs

The new high school will be two stories, not one as originally planned. ~OPN Architects rendering

An increase in the cost of structural steel and electrical materials is challenging Greene County school officials and OPN Architects as they finalize the design for the new high school and regional career academy.

School board members Steve Karber and Sam Harding reported to the full board last week that the last estimate of construction costs was 10 percent higher than anticipated because of rising material costs. Harding estimates the increase at about $2 million.

Planners have reduced some space and have cut $450,000 from the project by eliminating an access road off N. Elm St, south of American Athletic Inc. The new plan has access only from Grimmell Road.

Harding told GreeneCountyNewsOnline that new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are making it more difficult to estimate cost. He said the facilities committee is looking at things that can be done after the school is completed and functioning, as funds become available.

The high school will be constructed of pre-cast concrete. Once footings are poured the walls will be placed, probably next May, Harding said. After the roof is on, construction will not be weather-dependent. Harding said only a very wet spring would delay the project.
Plans will be finalized next month so bids can be let after the first of the year.

Harding knows of no similar projects being planned in that timeframe; he’s hopeful six or seven companies will submit bids. “It’s a nice, clean project,” he said. “With so much of it being pre-cast, deadlines are easier to hit. There’s less chance of delays that end up costing money.”

~OPN Architects rendering

The board has discussed several times hiring an owner’s representative to oversee construction. The owner’s rep is a person knowledgeable about construction who is onsite, watching all phases of the project. The architectural firm will have someone at the project monthly, while the owner’s rep is there daily, and sometimes for entire days. An owner’s rep for the school project would be paid about $100,000.

Harding, who has extensive experience in facility construction, offered to serve as owner’s rep at no cost to the district. “I’m passionate about the project, and the people we were looking at don’t have more experience than I do,” Harding said. He is glad to be able to save the district that cost, he added.

Harding’s professional experience is as president of Shriver Construction and as vice president of Iowa School Construction Administration Services. He was owner’s rep for several school construction projects in Clinton.

Harding has served on the school board for 26 years. He announced at the meeting last week that he won’t run for re-election in the 2019 school election.

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