12th Elementary School Project Update - June 20, 2017

During its meeting on June 20, 2017, the School Board was presented with a report from the joint meeting of the Buildings and Grounds and Finance Committees held on June 15, 2017. Stonewall District Representative and Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Frank Wright reported that Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff updated the committees 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 detail budget for a planned 600 student elementary 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 contact
  • reducing the amount of interior and exterior glazing
  • converting the exterior to brick, where possible
  • eliminate the possible use of photovoltaic panels in the future
  • 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 that in today’s dollars, the school division should be able to construct an elementary school of approximately 70,000 square foot for $27 million (bids expected in the $280-$300 per square foot range). 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 approximately 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
  • 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 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 furniture quantity and quality 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. Wright reported that Dr. Orndorff reviewed an updated cost estimate of $31,985,668 provided by Downey and Scott for the 12th elementary school with the joint committees. The estimate was based upon the School Board’s direction as to what should be included in the facility.Dr. Orndorff stated the updated estimate includes a full-size gymnasium with bleachers to accommodate school events as well as Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department programs, a room dedicated for music education, standard sized administrative offices and conference rooms to support the original target of a 600 student K-5 elementary school, a standard size commercial kitchen and dining to accommodate a 600 student elementary school in serving breakfast and lunch during appropriate times of the instructional day. Dr. Orndorff added the cost estimate also includes bid alternates adding classrooms in combination of two each with appropriate proportions of instructional programming space. He stated the bid alternates will provide the School Board with an opportunity to increase the student membership capacity should the bid come in lower than the estimated cost of construction. Dr. Orndorff added the estimated construction inflation on commercial projects of the magnitude of the 12th elementary school is just over $2,000 per day. He also shared that delaying the project in the current Mid-Atlantic commercial market appears to exceed current interest rates available to public entities.  

Dr. Orndorff stated there will still be cuts needed to stay within the appropriation including:
  • instructional space (classrooms and associated support areas)
  • furniture, fixtures and equipment
  • the asphalt fire lane
  • reduced use of concrete
  • reducing on-site parking to the minimum code requirement
Mr. Wright reported Dr. Orndorff reviewed a draft resolution seeking a supplemental appropriation of $30,485,668 to the FY2018 School Construction Fund for construction of the 12th elementary school subject to action by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors. Dr. Orndorff noted the $30,485,668 is in addition to the $1,500,000 appropriated by the Board of Supervisors on July 8, 2015, for architectural and engineering design.

Mr. Wright stated the joint committee discussed the proposed resolution and options regarding the size of the school and student capacity before recommending the full Board approve a resolution seeking an appropriation of $28,500,000 to the FY2018 School Construction Fund to support construction of an elementary school at Snowden Bridge with a capacity of approximately 500 students. The $28,500,000 is in addition to the $1,500,000 appropriated by the Board of Supervisors on July 8, 2015, for architectural and engineering design.  

Upon a motion by Opequon District Representative Seth Thatcher and a second by Shawnee District Representative Jay Foreman, the Board adopted a resolution seeking an appropriation of $28,500,000 to the FY2018 School Construction Fund to support construction of an elementary school at Snowden Bridge with a capacity of approximately 500 students subject to action by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors. The School Board’s request will be forwarded to the Frederick County Board of Supervisors for consideration.