Superintendent says some inflation costs were anticipated, justified by their added value

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Construction of a new Columbia County Education Campus in the St. Helens School District was delayed several months after officials combined the bid process for the project with the middle school bid as a means to reduce costs.A variety of factors have altered the budget and timeline for construction of two new buildings in the St. Helens School District, district staff report.

During a St. Helens School District board of directors meeting Wednesday, Sept. 27, a series of updates were presented to the school board and audience members, including information that a new alternative high school and middle school building would cost more than initially budgeted, and the timeline for one project would be pushed out.

Following the meeting, staff with the district further explained that a variety of factors have affected the budget — pushing up estimates by millions of dollars — including the addition of many

"value added additions" to the architectural design plans.

Superintendent Scot Stockwell said the design plans for a new middle school include the addition of a second gym, a covered play area, career and technical education classrooms and additional classroom spaces. At the Columbia County Education Campus, a similar series of changes were made that altered

the initially projected budget, including the addition of classrooms, a multimedia

center and a covered recreation area.

Construction and ground-breaking for the CCEC campus was initially projected to begin in mid-November, but was pushed back after district officials made the decision to place the CCEC construction bid under the umbrella of the construction bid for the middle school, rather than placing separate bids.

Initially, the district received no bids for construction of the CCEC project. Combining CCEC with middle school construction delays the project several months, Stockwell said, but ultimately will save the district between $500,000 and $1 million.

Status of Bonds

? Middle School budget increase: $3.2 Million

Reasons for increase: Addition of a second gym, additional classrooms, career and technical classrooms, addition of covered recreation area

Where the money comes from: A portion comes from a built-in contingency. If costs are not covered by that contingency, the funds will still be available under the voter-approved bond, but will affect the budget for renovations planned for the St. Helens High School.

? Columbia County Educational Campus increase: $800,000

Reasons for the increase: Addition of classrooms and a multimedia center, addition of a covered activity area for physical education

Reasons for construction delay: Project was combined with the bid for construction with the middle school after no local contract bids were submitted to the district earlier this year.

? Unissued bonds: $2.725 million

Reasons for not being used: These bond funds, which were voter-approved, have not been allocated yet and may be used to cover costs if needed. Inflation costs are also built into cost estimates over the life of construction.

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