HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Township High School District 113 officials have been working to find ways to fend off furniture cost overruns after an initial quote came in nearly 25 percent over budget.

So far, administrators have been able to shave down the initial price tag of more than $496,000 by nearly $25,000 by scrapping plans for wheels on most shelves, using plastic instead of upholstery on 110 seats and cutting down on the number of chairs overall, according to a memo from the district’s architect.

“We’ve been reusing what we can, we’ve been really, really working to get that price down,” Brian Ahmer, the district’s director of operations and facilities, told board members Tuesday.

Ahmer said the project’s original furniture budget was $400,000, although there are contingencies and other line items in the budget that can cover the additional cost. He said he planned to ask the board to approve spending up to $471,342.88 while staff seek to further reduce the cost.

Board President Jodi Shapira praised the administration’s work to find new uses for pieces of furniture that is being replaced, including coordinating with Deerfield High School and other school districts.

“The little that can go into a landfill, the better,” Shapira said. “More importantly, we all know we have districts around us that do not have some of our luxuries, and to make sure that other communities, other spaces, anything else that can use this stuff, is a good thing.”

Furniture manufacturers have raised prices several times in the past two years due to supply chain issues, according to the memo from district’s architectural firm, FGM Architects.

“Freight costs have increased at an unprecedented rate,” it said. “Steel surcharges have been applied to or incorporated into overall pricing structures.”

The total budget of the HPHS library renovation project is $8.07 million, including contingencies, according to an agreement between the district and its construction manager approved last month.

“Inflation is real,” Ahmer said. “We can see costs going up, steel costs going up, fuel surcharges, we see these things going up, and we’re starting to feel the impact.”


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