January 16, 2013 - The Mehlville School District's auditorium project still will have more than $200,000 in contingency funds after unanimous approval of two alternate components to the building.
The Board of Education unanimously approved construction of a connecting corridor for $99,000 and installation of gypsum board on the building's interior for $43,500 last week.
In October, the board approved Wright Construction's base bid of $5,134,000 for the auditorium. Superintendent Eric Knost said when he sought approval of Wright as the general contractor the alternates were "intentional as a method to keep this project in budget."
"I fully intended — I stated this back then — that we would keep this job in budget and we'd add those alternates," he said.
Knost originally planned to suggest that roughly half of the project's $300,000 contingency be used for the connecting corridor and the gypsum board, but a roughly $142,000 contingency — separate from the $300,000 — was built into the budget for soil remediation. Knost said based on where the project is at now, the district will receive a $99,000 credit from the soil remediation contingency.
Tom Wright, of Wright Construction, told the board his firm is "essentially between 80 (percent) and 85 percent complete" with the earthwork, which is where "opportunistic challenges that would have any affect at all on that contingency" would occur.
As a result, Knost recommended using that $99,000 for the connecting corridor, though part of the original $300,000 contingency will be used for the gypsum board.
Wright said a roughly $250,000 contingency is, historically, "very safe."
"We're as committed as your general contractor as Eric is to no changes on the project," Wright said.
Board member Ron Fedorchak, also a member of the district's Facilities Committee, said when the corridor first was discussed, he was concerned about students "walking out the front door, walking into the auditorium and back and forth."
"After what happened in Connecticut (with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting), I really thought this is a safety issue," Fedorchak said. "… In terms of a safety project, this became even more important. So, I was in favor of this just from a standpoint of maintaining order, and keeping the kids in the safety of the building."
Three alternates — a connecting corridor, gypsum board on the interior of the building and various types of sound equipment — were presented to the board in October. Wright said he expects to return to the board requesting approval for the sound equipment in four to six weeks.
The superintendent said the project is "moving along nicely" and is "technically" ahead of budget.
"We are well within the ability to complete this project before our published date of Nov. 1," Knost said.