The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 17, 2010

Budget for CCHS renovation takes shape

The Concord-Carlisle Building Committee (CCBC) compared cost estimates on December 8 and found the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) renovation project to be in the mid-range of a sample of other recent high school projects (see table, page 4). The cost per student is either below or near the top of the range, depending on whether the proposed field house is included.

Although a contract for Owners Project Manager services with KV Associates of Boston (KVA) has not yet been approved by the state nor signed by the Regional School Committee, representatives from KVA have been working on the project and gave input on the budget at the meeting. What was termed a “back-of-the-envelope” estimate for the total cost came in at about $101 million including the field house, or about $86 million without it. The calculations are preliminary, as the designs have not been finalized.

Based on a smaller field house and a smaller estimated cost of $85 to 97 million, CCBC member and Regional School Committee Chair Louis Salemy expects the project will raise taxes about 5% to 6%. “Even though there are different tax rates in the two towns, the tax impact is very similar,” Salemy said.

Project compared to other towns

Salemy provided a cost comparison of four other recent Massachusetts high school renovations. Danvers, Longmeadow and Wayland have a student enrollment of roughly 1,000 each. The overall costs of these projects range from $75 to $80 million. Wellesley’s enrollment is 1,600 with a project cost of $131 million. Tax rates increased in Wayland and Wellesley by roughly 6 to 7%, slightly more than is estimated for the CCHS project. “What we are considering is quite reasonable,” said Salemy. In looking at the cost of the project, Salemy said that it is not cheap to the taxpayer, but it is a good value.

Project costs detailed

The MSBA defines the CCHS project as a combination of new and renovated space in a school building for 1,225 students. Their formula allows for 181 square feet per student, and hence a building size of 221,725 square feet. Using the Master Plan to define the project, the MSBA estimate for the CCHS renovation is $75 to $85 million. Committee Co-chair Jerry Wedge explained the wide range is given because the amount of space renovated compared to the amount of new construction is still unknown. The MSBA figure does not include the field house, which they will not fund. KVA representative David Saindon went through a rough cost analysis to check that the numbers given by MSBA are valid. His result for the school came in at $86 million, close to the MSBA estimate, while the total cost for the field house was an additional $15.3 million. Saindon’s estimate includes 10,000 square feet more than the CCBC estimates.

Wedge explained, “The MSBA has informed us that they will not reimburse us for the field house.” Private fund-raising is currently underway. The goal is to raise at least 30 to 35% of the cost of the field house, essentially the same amount that MSBA would reimburse. The communities would pick up the remainder, just as they are doing for the rest of the project. Wedge pointed out, “It is an important component of the school.” He said that if funds are not raised by the spring, the committee will have to rethink its strategy for the field house. He acknowledged that the amount of money raised for the field house has a large impact on the ultimate cost to the taxpayer.

Saindon began with MSBA’s 221,725 square feet for the size of the renovated school. He said that for new construction MSBA has an average “direct” cost for materials and labor of $204 per square foot. Therefore, the estimated cost is $45.2 million. The direct cost does not include management costs, escalation of costs over time or overhead. KVA estimated the field house to be 36,000 square feet. They multiplied that by 1.25 to get the total outside dimension for the field house at 45,000 square feet. KVA Executive Vice-President Frank Vanzier used an estimate for direct cost of $175 per square foot for the athletic facility. With an additional 15% added for contingency, the total is slightly over $9 million for the field house materials, labor and contingency.

To the $45.2 million and $9 million, KVA added $5.7 million for site work for a sub-total of $59.9 million. They then added 10% for escalation cost. Escalation is defined as the cost increase between building costs today compared to those estimated in two years when the project finally gets to the construction phase. Another 22% is added for all the costs not considered a direct cost, such as the construction management cost of the contractor. An additional 26% was added for “soft” costs such as the architect and management fees, furniture, fixtures, equipment and contingencies.

The total is $101.3 million. Saindon made several points. Without the field house, the estimate is $86 million for the school renovation. The MSBA previously used an estimated total cost of $400 per square foot in their calculations. Using that estimate, the CCHS project would cost $88.7 million. The MSBA “direct” cost estimate is an average for new construction. Renovated space should be less than that. Finally, Saindon stressed that this was an approximate calculation to see if the MSBA figures were in the ball park; these numbers do not describe a budget.

Salemy pointed out that this independent cost analysis verifies the validity of MSBA estimates, estimates in the spring Facilities Master Plan prepared by The Office of Michael Rosenfeld and those determined by the 2005 feasibility study.

Going green

“Both communities have a strong interest in green components,” said Wedge. He noted there are higher up-front costs to make a building green, but there are huge savings over time. An energy subcommittee was formed with CCBC members Peter Nobile, Stan Durlacher, Jeff Adams, Sergio Siani, Jerry Wedge, Dave Anderson, Elise Woodward and Karla Johnson. The committee will look at the costs and building materials toxicity of the green recommendations stated in the Facilities Master Plan. The MSBA offers up to 2% reimbursement for green elements in the design. The committee will review updated MA-CHPS (Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools) standards and incentives and guide the CCBC on green decisions.

Project schedule

Wedge added that the time to act is now, while there are low, favorable interest rates and construction costs. Deputy Superintendent John Flaherty said the RSD had sold a bond for $897,000, the district’s portion of the $1.3 million voted on last spring for the CCHS Feasibility Study for 1.05%, “a very favorable rate.”

A tentative schedule was unveiled. An architect is expected to be on board by March 1, 2011. The Education Specification is expected to be finalized and approved by MSBA by the end of March. From mid-December to mid-May, building options will be developed and analyzed. MSBA approval of one of these options is expected by mid-May. From mid-May to August 1, schematic designs will be developed and submitted to MSBA. The month of August will be used to resolve the Project Funding Agreement (PFA) with the MSBA. MSBA Board approval will be obtained in September. Town Meetings to request construction funds will take place in November, 2011.

The next task is to hire an architect. The schedule calls for a Request for Services to be submitted to the MSBA for their approval on December 22. The target date for their approval is January 4, 2011. The following week is being targeted for advertising, with the proposals from bidders due on January 26.

The December 22 meeting has been canceled. The next CCBC meeting will be held in the CCHS Library at 6 p.m. on January 12, 2011.


High School Building Project Cost Comparison 

Total Cost 
Gross Sq. Ft. 
MSBA Reimburs. 
Proposed CCHS:
MSBA low estimate 
$75 million 
KVA est w/o fi eldhouse 
$86 million 
KVA est w/ field house 
$101.3 million 
$75 million 
$25 million 
$131 million 
$44 million 
$78 million 
$34 million 
$80 million 
$42 million 

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