Elementary Modular Classrooms to be Finished by Early January
The four classrooms have come in with an estimated cost of just under $1 million, prior to any added costs for sprinkler systems.
Back after a nearly two-month break from public meetings, the Newton School Committee last night learned that the four modular classrooms for three elementary schools will likely be finished by early January, and are estimated to come along with a price tag of just under $1 million.
The project, which was delayed one month after an unfavorable first bid attempt, looks to add much needed space at Zervas, Horace Mann and Burr Elementary Schools.
"The contract has been executed and the time has [started] ticking," said Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan. "Essentially, we extended our timeline by one month."
Had the city gone with the original bid, costs would have been close to $350,000 higher than originally budgeted, Guryan said. Instead, the project went back out to bid and the construction contracts for the four modular classrooms was eventually awarded to Triumph, the same company that recently added modulars to Oak Hill Middle School.
"We know the players and the names," said Chief of Operations Mike Cronin. "I'm very comfortable working with them. They're a great group."
In the meantime, Guryan said the contingency plans developed by the crowded schools will work out for an extra month. She added that the new, "high quality" modulars will likely be ready for occupancy prior to December break, with the finishing touches done in early January.
As of last night, the estimated cost of the modulars came in around $922,000, Guryan said. With an added $70,000 or so for design costs, the total estimated costs for the new classrooms currently stand at around $998,000.
However, that cost does not include mandatory sprinkler systems, Guryan said, which are estimated to come in at more than $1.1 million.
Guryan said the School Department is working with the city's Public Buildings Department to put together a bid for the sprinklers. She added that the schools and the city are also "exploring funding sources" for those sprinkler systems.
"That is the next challenge," Guryan said.
Although Guryan could not give a solid answer as to what those "funding sources" are, Mayor Setti Warren clarified that the city is looking at the sprinkler systems as it puts together its capital plan, which will be presented in October.
"We are looking at a way to address it within our capital needs," Warren said.
Warren added that he is committed to staying within the $5 million he allocated for the short-term space needs, but since the sprinklers are mandatory the city will try to look at it as a capital question.
Over the summer, Guryan said Public Buildings Commissioner Stephanie Gilman applied to a sprinkler appeals board for an extension to install the systems. The extension will push the sprinkler deadline to sometime next summer, allowing the School Department to install the systems after kids are out for the year.
Updates on Day Middle School construction
Although Guryan was unable to bring forward new cost estimates last night, she said work planning expansion at F.A. Day Middle School has been ongoing throughout the late spring and summer.
The current cost for the six added classrooms, expanded cafeteria, revamped entrances and administrative space is coming in at around $4 million before sprinkler costs, Guryan said.
Although the $4 million is about $500,000 more than previous projections, Guryan said she is still recommending that the department moves forward with the six recommended classrooms, rather than cutting back to four. Although school just started last week, projections are showing the increase at Day to be about 20 students higher than originally estimated.
Superintendent David Fleishman echoed Guryan's concerns, saying that there are districts across the country right now regretting not building enough space for their new schools, including nearby Brookline.
With the high costs coming in, though, Guryan said the School Department has asked the design architects for Day to try to work out a scaled-back version of the original construction plans. The "reduced scope," she said, will preferably include six classrooms, but reduce the price by about $1 million or so.
Guryan said she will be back at the next School Committee meeting in two weeks with the architects and updated cost estimates.