Costs force a redesign of new school Plan exceeded budget for Union Bridge site by about $1.6 million

Still 'a very nice' building

Windows, halls, walks affected by changes

opening set for 1998

June 30, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The new Elmer Wolfe Elementary School is going back to the drawing board after school officials agreed Friday to a list of changes that should bring the project in line with the $6.4 million budget.

This spring, bids to rebuild the Union Bridge school came in at about $1.6 million over budget, a result of a rise in costs between the original design and the approval of state money.

Architects will rework the changes into a new set of specifications in time for contractors to bid on it in the fall and break ground before winter, said Vernon Smith, director of support services for Carroll County Schools.

If all goes well, the school should be completed by September 1998 -- one year late.

"We're disappointed, but we are very eager to get the school under construction," said Phyllis Lantz, chairwoman of the construction committee and a language arts teacher at the school.

"Even with these changes, we have a very nice school projected," Lantz said.

Smith met with Lantz and Principal Mary E. Stong on Friday to go over the proposed changes, the result of collaboration between Smith's staff, the architects and an independent construction manager hired to oversee the Oklahoma Road Middle School being built in South Carroll.

Stong said she was relieved the changes will not affect the size or number of classrooms, or otherwise affect children or programs.

L But classrooms will have two windows each, instead of three.

And about half of the built-in cabinets and shelves written into the original design will be written out of the bid, for a savings of about $250,000. Stong said that the school could add them later. The cabinets could be laminate instead of wood.

Corridors will be a little narrower, and instead of glazed tile on the lower half of walls, they will be straight painted concrete blocks, part of a series of architectural changes that will save $500,000. School principals prefer the glazed tiles because they mask children's fingerprints and other marks, and are easier to maintain.

The gym will be smaller by 100 square feet and might have a vinyl floor instead of wood, but it will still be a middle-school-size gym, as requested by the county's Department of Recreation and Parks.

Instead of a mansard roof with space for "penthouses" to shelter heating and ventilation equipment, the school will have a flat roof.

The reduction of square footage in the gym, penthouses and roof will save about $320,000.

About $400,000 in excavation, landscaping and other outdoor work will be reduced. Sidewalks will be fewer and not as wide, and low walls for seating in the courtyard will be eliminated.

When bids came in this spring, the lowest was $7.3 million. That bid didn't include a series of "alternates" -- items that are sometimes optional, for which contractors are asked to provide separate prices.

In the case of Elmer Wolfe, about $650,000 worth of these alternates were really central to the project, said Smith.

"That meant is was not a mere $750,000 deficit, but really we were looking for $1.6 million on this project. So we had to reject the bids," Smith said.

"Fiscal conditions being what they are, we felt it was not [realistic] to go to the commissioners for more money, so we went to redesign," he said.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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