Cost for proposed high school rises

$9 million is added to estimate at site near Cranberry Station

August 12, 1999|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN STAFF

If a Westminster high school is built near Cranberry Station Elementary School, it will cost $9 million more than expected.

School administrators said building the school at the Cranberry site would cost more than $38 million, far above the $29 million tentatively budgeted.

The new estimate was included in a proposed capital budget for 2000-2001, which was presented to the school board yesterday. The spending proposal will be discussed during a public hearing Aug. 24 and delivered to the county commissioners Sept. 1.

Ray Prokop, supervisor of construction, said the additional money is being requested for several reasons: Excavation and rock removal at the site would cost $5.6 million more than anticipated; unforeseen but needed improvements on Gorsuch Road would cost $350,000; and a state formula used by school districts to estimate construction costs changed this year, adding $3 million.

Extra funds doubted

County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said the county would be unlikely to pay $38 million.

"The simple answer is `no,' " she said.

Frazier added, however, that once she studied the reasons for the increase more closely, she would have a better idea of how costs could be trimmed.

She also said the higher price was another reason to continue searching for another site on which to build Westminster's second high school.

Susan Ulrich, who co-chairs the parent advocacy group Citizens for Schools, which has been lobbying for a second Westminster high school, remained confident construction would take place even if the site had to be changed.

"That building will be built," said Ulrich, who vowed to keep pressure on the Board of Education, "or they'll have 400 parents on them."

Alternative sites sought

The school board angered Westminster residents two years ago, when it tabled the high school project in favor of completing Century High School in South Carroll.

Gregory Pecoraro, president pro tem of the Westminster Common Council and a vocal advocate of a new high school, said, "We're naturally concerned that the school stay on track and would be very concerned about an increased cost and how that might affect it."

The county is looking for other sites for the school.

Other project's problem

Also at yesterday's meeting, the school board received bad news about construction at Cranberry Station Elementary School.

Two water mains were found beneath Center Street, which means connecting Center Street to Gorsuch Road -- behind the school -- will be delayed until after school opens, administrators said.

The school, off Center Street, is to open Aug. 30. Some school buses, however, will have to be temporarily rerouted, instead entering the school from Route 140.

Moving the water mains will cost $50,000 to $80,000.

Redistricting planning

In other business, administrators presented a proposal to board members for a new long-range facility planning committee, which board member Susan Krebs had requested.

The committee -- to include parents, principals, staff, a board member, and a representative from the business community -- will tackle redistricting.

The committee is expected to be approved by the board next month. It will be charged with providing a redistricting plan to the school board by April.

Sun staff writer Sheridan Lyons contributed to this article.

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