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Special meeting of the Board of School Directors - August 31, 2015


Aug. 31, 2015


Chris Rosenblum

SCASD Director of Communications


SCASD Board of Directors Reviews Final State High Project Cost Estimate

               On Monday during a special meeting, the State College Area School District Board of Directors reviewed a 90 percent estimate for the State High Project and discussed a revised project calendar.

               Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, the project architect, prepared the final project estimate, which comes to $129,441,575. Jeff Straub and John Beddia of CRA joined SCASD Physical Plant Director Ed Poprik in explaining the estimate to board members.

               The estimate breaks down as follows:

  • South Building — $94,203,098

  • North Building — $14,556,102

  • Both estimates include a 1 percent estimating contingency and a 3 percent escalation to midpoint of construction (taking into account an estimated 1.5 percent annual inflation to reflect future material costs)

  • Soft costs (traffic study, site survey, codes review, geotechnical engineering, 3 percent construction contingency) — $18,772,675

  • SP15 project costs (summer site work) — $1,609,700

  • Traffic light costs — $300,000

From the total project estimate, the district can subtract two state LEED grants, one for $2 million and the other for $1,935,393. As a result, the net cost to SCASD would be $125,506,182.

  • This would be require $10,506,182 more in funding than the project budget passed by referendum vote last year.

  • But the district’s net cost, as stated above, does not include an estimated $7,666,746 in expected PlanCon reimbursement from the state.

  • The roughly $125 million would be paid for by $85 million in referendum debt, $10 million in capital reserves and $30 million in debt funded through current tax millage. At the time of the referendum election, the $30 million was only at the $20 million level, given the $115 million budget then. District financial planning for changes in the scope of the State High Project led to the extra $10 million allocation from the district’s capital plan.

CRA’s 60 percent estimate for the total project cost was $127,208,954. Design team members explained that about $1.7 million in site work accounts for the bulk of the difference, about a 1.6 percent increase. This included:

  • Summer sitework, the SP15 Project, was part of the overall State High Project at the 60 percent stage, but was not fully added into the budget at that point.

  • Many sitework components (grading, cut/fill, final paving quantities, utilities subject to approval) are fully realized at the 90 percent stage, unlike at the 60 percent stage.

  • Some pending land development, zoning and codes final reviews have added limited cost to the budget. Some of the estimated costs, which are contingency hedges to project against final approval requirements because final code review will occur during bidding, may decrease with the final bid project.

  • The $300,000 traffic light was formally added into the 90 percent budget. It was not part of the 60 percent estimate because of questions about Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approval warrants.

  • Design changes, mainly in performing arts and physical education areas in the South Building at the 60 percent stage, account for an additional $200,000. Other changes included final life safety requirements for smoke evacuation, egress and fire protection for both the North and South buildings.

               Design team members told board members that cost increases for materials such as concrete, masonry, metals, woods and finishes in the final estimate can be attributed to more square footage from 60 percent performing arts and gym additions and to fluctuating market prices.

             “It doesn’t take much in the unit price when you have these kind of quantities,” Beddia said.

 The 90 percent estimate also includes $7,391,157 in alternates, such as a 30-year roof warranty and tile choices, that board members will consider.

              For complete details, please see the full project estimate summary, including alternates, as well as a comparison between 60 percent estimates and 90 percent estimates for the project.

State High Project calendar update

The State High Project team presented a revised project calendar to the Board. Under the latest schedule, the bid opening date has been moved up to Nov. 5.

This would place the bid award date on Nov. 16.

“We’re trying to make the best of a very aggressive schedule for this phase of the work,” SCASD Physical Plant Director Ed Poprik said. “Hopefully, we’re able to allow this action to happen in November.”

  • An earlier schedule revision, outlined for the Board on Aug. 10, called for a Nov. 10 bid opening date and a Nov. 23 bid award date.

  • In case of complications, a contingency plan establishes Nov. 19 as bid opening date and Nov. 30 as the bid award date.

“We’re working internally to try to facilitate a shortened bid window for contractors and try to get advanced information out to them as it becomes public and at least allow them access to documents early in the process,” Poprik said.

In response to board member Jim Pawelczyk’s question about how quickly contractors could begin construction work after the eight bid packages are awarded, Jeff Straub of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates said he would expect them to be on site toward the end of December and early January at the soonest.

“There will be a lot of paperwork back and forth in the month of December,” Straub said.

Charter school subsidy payments

District administrators will recommend that the Board adopt a resolution reducing tuition payments to charter schools until the Commonwealth resolves its budget impasse.

The district’s recommendation is to lower the payments by 18 percent — equal to the percentage of the district’s revenue from state sources.

One other district in the state has chosen this option while the budget is being negotiated. Once a budget is attained, SCASD would resume full payments to charter schools.

The Pennsylvania School Board Association’s General Counsel has written an opinion in support of the action.

“In short, when the Commonwealth stops paying its bills, it is inevitable that school districts might have to put off paying some of theirs,” General Counsel Stuart Knade wrote in the opinion to the PSBA.