I've heard some concerns about the fact that this project utilizes portions of the existing school rather than being a brand new structure. Toledo was granted a total of $20 million from the state if we were willing to tax ourselves to provide $7 million to the project. The language of ESSB 6095 that grants Toledo $10 million is as follows:
"(7)(a) $10,000,000 of the appropriation in this section is provided solely for the Toledo school district;
(b) The Toledo school district must provide a local match equivalent to a minimum of $7,000,000. The local match may consist of cash; furniture, finishes, and equipment; or like-kind.
(c) If the Toledo school district cannot demonstrate to the office of the superintendent of public instruction that a local match pursuant to (b) of this subsection has been secured by June 30, 2019, the appropriation in (a) of this subsection shall lapse." (Sec. 5007)
The expectation of Rep. Richard DeBolt was that this money would be used to build a new school. What is proposed is a new school. It will be unlike the current school. Much of it will be new construction. It will be a new concept of Toledo High School. It will not look like the current high school. The Design Committee felt that utilizing portions of the building was a prudent way to address the project and utilize district assets and resources.
During the bond campaign, I heard from many in our community that they "knew someone" who said we could build a new school for $200/square foot (or some other low cost). Based on that and a school that is 68,000 sf, they concluded that we should be able to build an entirely new school for $25 million. This was shared around the community and took on a life of its own. The problem with these estimates are:
- Current construction costs are $346/sf
- Construction costs exclude soft costs such as permits, fees, consultant costs, architects, project managers and sales tax.
- The people quoting costs have a vested interest in us thinking they can do the job inexpensively.
You may have read that a brand new school would cost in excess of $40 million. That's true. With current construction and soft costs along with a larger footprint, $40 million is an accurate estimate for a brand new school. Like those who thought that we were going to get a brand new school based on "someone they know's" cost estimates, some folks are worried that the district will ask for more money in order to complete the project. The district's message is and has always been, "We are going to build the very best school we can with the resources allocated to us." This means, we will build the best school we can for $27 million.
The Construction Committee will meet later this month to review the architect's progress. This is a smaller committee comprised of community members with construction experience and school staff. Dale Merten will again chair the committee. Their task will be to provide continuing input to the architects in order to be sure that the project is within budget and consistent with the vision of the Design Committee. In addition, this committee will review the design to be sure that it will serve students and staff well. In late June, the community will be invited to a meeting to review progress. Just before we go to bid in September, the community will be invited to see what is going out for bid. I encourage all to attend these meetings.
The design is shaping up nicely and we're working hard to squeeze every benefit we can out of the project with the resources available. This is going to be a tremendous new school worthy of the tax dollars you've invested. If you'd like more information, I invite you to contact me directly.