12th Elementary School Project Update - May 16, 2017

During its meeting on May 16, 2017, the School Board was presented with a report from the May 15, 2017, meeting of its Buildings and Grounds Committee. Opequon District Representative and Buildings and Grounds Committee member Seth Thatcher reported that Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff updated the committee on the status of the 12th elementary school project. Dr. Orndorff reviewed the information presented at the Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting held on March 21, 2017. During that meeting, the committee reviewed the 50 percent design budget for a planned 600 student school to be built on the 20 acre proffered site at the Snowden Bridge Development as well as several changes that could be made to reduce the total project cost to from $34.6 million to $31.5 million. The cost reductions reviewed included: reducing the size of the gym and removing the bleachers; removing preschool classrooms; removing the multipurpose room; converting the standing seam roof to ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM); converting the ceiling materials to acoustical ceiling tile and grid; selecting a lower quality light fixture package; removing the payment bond from the construction contract; reducing the amount of interior and exterior glazing; converting the exterior to brick, where possible; and various other changes to structure, site and details.

Dr. Orndorff noted the Board of Supervisors approved a motion during its meeting on April 12, 2017, stating its willingness to consider a future appropriation of up to $27 million to construct a 12th elementary school at Snowden Bridge provided the school will be a complete facility including all state standard elementary school programs; there will be no unresolved VDOT comments or issues; the Board of Supervisors will not be asked to appropriate any additional capital funding for the facility for a minimum of 15 years; and if the capacity of the school is reduced below 600, all support areas will be designed and constructed to support the original capacity.

Dr. Orndorff stated the architect estimates the school division should be able to construct a 70,000 square foot elementary school for $27 million (bids expected in the $280-$300 per square foot range) in today’s dollars. Dr. Orndorff shared the current design provided 163 square feet per student while the proposed reduction in the size of the school will result in providing 140 square feet per student. In addition, the program capacity of the school would be reduced from 600 to 500 students.

Specific changes to the project include removing four classrooms, reducing the size of K-1 classrooms by 100 to 200 square feet each, reducing collaboration space to 200 square feet per classroom (originally planned for 200 square feet for K-1, 360 square feet for grades 2-3 and 450 square feet for grades 4-5) with the possibility that collaboration space may not be provided for K-2, possibly removing one or more special education classrooms, removing the music classroom and either putting music on the stage or on a cart, removing the media center classroom and possibly reducing the square footage of areas like hallways. Dr. Orndorff added the budget includes a $500,000 increase in the architectural and engineering fee, pending negotiation. The increase in the architectural and engineering fee is the result of having to redesign the building based on the budget figure provided by the Board of Supervisors. He noted the technology line item is too low and may need to be increased to $1.2 million. In addition, Dr. Orndorff shared the quality of the furniture as well as the quantity are being sacrificed and will have to be supplemented with used or refurbished furniture from the school division’s warehouse inventory.

Dr. Orndorff reminded the committee to expect a minimum of a 5.5 percent escalation in construction costs this year. He added that a bid delayed a year is expected to increase cost to between $295 to $315 per square foot, or an increase of roughly $1.5 million.

Mr. Thatcher reported that Dr. Orndorff reviewed a draft resolution seeking a supplemental appropriation of $27 million to the FY2018 School Construction Fund for construction of the 12th elementary school subject to action by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors. The committee discussed some of the proposed cuts, specifically the roof system, the elimination of the music room, and reducing the overall size and program capacity of the school. Stonewall District Representative Frank Wright suggested the proposed project changes be shared with members of the community who will be served by the 12th elementary school. Dr. Lamanna and other Board members attending the committee meeting also discussed the need for the Board to determine whether or not it can support the suggested cuts based on the impact they would have on students and the school’s operations.