Quakertown schools renovation could cost $71 million
Posted in the Coopersburg Forum
#1 Mar 16, 2013
Mar 15, 2013.
By Chris Ruvo Correspondent
Posted on March 15, 2013
It felt a bit like a sucker punch.
The feeling, that is, that came when Quakertown School District officials opened bids from contractors interested in undertaking the proposed large-scale renovation of the high school.
District officials had estimated the project would cost between $50 million and $60 million.
But based on the bids that came in this week, the price tag for construction and soft costs is in the $71.3 million range, according to an assessment by The Architectural Studio, the Allentown-based firm managing the renovation project for the district.
“We’re extremely disappointed in the outcome,” school board President Bob Smith said at Thursday night’s meeting.“This forces us to think long and hard about what we’re going to do.”
As of press time, the board had not decided what direction to take.
One option is that the board could scale down the scope of the project and rebid. But with construction costs rapidly rising, subsequent bids could come back higher, even with a scaled-back plan, said Curt Santee, a principal at The Architectural Studio.
Indeed, rising construction costs were a key reason why bids were significantly higher than expected. Santee said the Turner Construction Index indicates that construction costs have recently escalated 3 percent and may grow to 5 percent more by next quarter.
Hurricane Sandy also contributed to cost increases, Santee said, with the rebuilding work in New Jersey pulling in manpower and materials, driving up prices for each.
Plus, Quakertown appears to have gone out to bid at a time when the construction industry, long laid low by the recent recession, appears to be getting back on its feet. And with greater demand, comes steeper prices.
“The building industry is starting to bounce back,” said Santee.
Despite the hefty price tag, Santee noted there are a number of positives to keep in mind about the high school renovation.
For one thing, the planned project meets all educational needs and accounts for critical issues such as safety, stormwater control and air quality. Plus, the revamped facility would allow for comfortable future expansion of educational and technology offerings.
In other news, a number of district parents asked the school board for a later start time for middle-schoolers. They’re concerned that the half-hour earlier start time, first put in place in 2009, allows children to get home too early in the afternoon, before parents can be around to provide proper supervision.
Some parents, like Chris Sheridan, a Bucks County Corrections officer, fear that students could be prey for opportunistic child predators.“These people are out there and they’re after our kids,” he said.
Still, board officials said switching up bus schedules to accommodate different start and dismissal times could, depending on the option taken, cost the district considerable extra cash. Depending on how exactly the busing would be worked, additional costs could be in the neighborhood of $350,000 to $500,000.
While the board took no action on the matter Thursday, solutions discussed included exploring the possibility of having LifeSpan provide child care at Milford Middle School at the expense of participating parents. LifeSpan is a child care provider that serves Bucks, Montgomery, and Lehigh counties.
Another suggestion centered on seeing about having Milford Middle School students bused to the Quakertown YMCA, where according to parents there is a program that is free for Y members and $65 a month for nonmembers. Strayer Middle School students are able to walk to the Y to participate, parents said.
Get ready to bend over, people!
$71M reno + PSERS = one sore butt!(and bank account)
#2 Mar 17, 2013
And of course, this doesn't mention whose hands are in the till and the kick backs involved. Because we all know there is no corruption over there? Right Paul? Right Richard(Child Molester)? This is why it is so important to back the proposed switch to a sales tax versus Property Taxes. It's your funeral folks. Just my opinion and some food for thought.
#3 Mar 17, 2013
Same third rate school district, now just more expensive.
#4 Mar 17, 2013
glad that you are all experts on the building and bid process for school districts. there is so much oversight in these kinds of building.
its not just a willey nilley - "okay - let's see how we can screw the taxpayers today.."
You design a project trying to get the most that you can for the kids. And you have to design with the future in mind. You have to research what the technology might be for the foreseeable future. And hope that it is enough. If/when the bids come in more that you calculated, you start cutting away but still trying to get the most that you can for the kids...what they will need. What you cannot cut it the technology end. and now you have to hurry the process, because as you are cutting, the prices of building products are going up every day. Its entirely possible for new bids to come in higher, due to the increase in price of building materials.
And by the way - QCSD is not a third rate school district. check your statistics again. and please not all of the awards and recognitions that QCSD is receiving. And maybe talk to an educated child. They know probably better than anyone whether schools are good or not. I would rather have my kids in QCSD than lots of other schools in the state.
#5 Mar 17, 2013
Since the main problem with the high bids seems to be that they are competing with Jersey, because of Sandy. Why dont they wait until next year when the bulk of Sandy is cleaned up (state side anyway)?
Of course the architects are going to tell you that if you do it later, it will cost more, because it means that they dont have the money now. They are salesman, they lie out their asses.
#6 Mar 17, 2013
Are these "district officials" contractors and know the cost of running a construction business? Same with the citizens of Quakertown do they have backgrounds in construction estimating?
As a contractor myself I hear gripes occasionally from home owners that say "that's high" I want to reply back and say "based on what? your construction estimating experience? You ran a construction business and know all the costs associated?" But I don't.
#7 Mar 17, 2013
I think there's a difference between a residential contractor working on an individual home and a large construction company renovating a public building like a high school.
Wouldn't you agree?
#8 Mar 17, 2013
I'm talking about the people who complain the cost is too high. What experience does that average person have to make such a claim? Someone who has never estimated a construction job or never worked in the trades at all can say it costs too much? What background do they have to be able to say something like this?
I'm not talking about a residential contractor being able to handle the workload of renovating a school. Also most construction companies do residential, commercial, industrial it all comes down to man power.
#9 Mar 17, 2013
They are taxpayers have every right to scrutinize how their hard earned money is utilized.
I don't have a problem with that, do you?
Oh, so Toll Brothers, Ryan Homes, Pulte, or other area homebuilders also do commercial and industrial? I don't think so.
#10 Mar 17, 2013
Or, maybe I'll call Haines and Kibblehouse to see if they'll repave my driveway.
#11 Mar 17, 2013
Yes the companies have seperate divisions. I guess you never see trucks on the road that say residential, commercial and industrial? Go back under your rock.
And of corse tax payers have a right to complain and give OPINIONS on how much something should cost. My point is that it's a bunch of b.s. unless you have an estimating background in the trades or worked in the trades. It's nothing more then people saying uneducated things just to complain...sorta like what you are doing.
So the companies you quoted don't focus on commercial so in your mind there aren't any construction companies that do all phases of construction.
I personally do residential and commercial work. What do you do for a living?
#12 Mar 17, 2013
You do commercial work...have you done a school? Have you had to work with ADA compliance?
#13 Mar 17, 2013
You contractors are gouging the general public and you don't like it when someone questions your prices. When your prices do not follow the % of increases in general over a number of years it raises a red flag. Just because you registered your business with the state and buy at lowes contractors desk doesn't make you a legit contractor.
#14 Mar 19, 2013
The only way a contractor can gouge anyone is if that "anyone" agrees to the price and contract. By the way, if a contractor's price is too high on a public bid...guess what? They don't get the work.
There are a lot of folks that think they know everything proving that don't know anything.
#15 Mar 19, 2013
Explain how contractors are gouging the general public. Also explain what difference does it make where the contractor gets supplies?
Last but not least explain this drivel... "When your prices do not follow the % of increases in general over a number of years it raises a red flag."
I'll grab some popcorn.
#16 Mar 19, 2013
I have won many bids being the higher guy and by thousands. You have lots of idiots you just choose a "contractor" based on the lowest price they can find.
The real quality contractors that don't take shortcuts and use quality materials and have better warranties don't work for peanuts.
Skilled labor isn't cheap and cheap labor isn't skilled. You most certainly get what you pay for. Go with the lowest bid and be prepared for problems or having to do it all over again down the line because you cheeped out.
Some of these people seem to think when they hear us charge $100+ an hour that all goes right in our pocket to spend...furthest thing from the truth. Out of that $100 about $25-$45 goes toward the owners salary and the rest is overhead costs.
#17 Mar 19, 2013
Yep the first electrical company I worked for did it all. We would be working in a house one day and a school the next. We also did lots of hospital work and heavy industrial work. Our company had hundreds of trucks and 3 divisions...fire/security, traffic signal, and electric.
Many companies have different divisions if you don't want to believe it I don't know what to tell ya kid.
#18 Mar 28, 2013
Is the school board voting on this project at tonights meeing?
#19 Mar 29, 2013
Voted on last night and APPROVED. "Average" tax increase $123/yr.. Get ready to fork it over or have a lien placed on your home.
#21 Apr 6, 2013
I am more than willing to pay more taxes to give my children an educational facility that will be more conducive for learning. If there is anything we should be willing to fork over money for it's our children, regardless if you have kids or not.
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