Architects presented a tweaked high Knoch school renovation plan at Wednesday’s South Butler County School Board meeting that achieves the district’s goals while keeping costs within the district’s budget.
“It achieves a lot of the same objectives and trims off the fat,” said Cassandra Renninger, a principal architect with DRAW Collective.
Ideas included in the new renovation place are: a common area consolidating the administration offices plus the cafeteria and kitchen; a reconfiguration of the first-floor science rooms to create larger chemistry and biology classrooms; a wellness center in the area of the current cafeteria and kitchen; a student entry for drivers and drop-offs; and replacing the staircase to the second floor with a “learning stair” that would include the opportunity for instruction space.
The plan will be presented in detail to the public at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Knoch Middle School library.
Renninger said the cost range for the new plan is estimated at $31.5 million to $35 million.
The district borrowed $34.2 million to pay for the renovation.
Board member Rebecca Boyd asked about the potential for inflation by the time construction begins.
Construction manager John Pappas said another district in the region did see costs exceed the budget in a major renovation project, but he hopes cost increases will begin to stabilize.
He said construction costs have increased 25% to 30% over last year.
He said potential inflation was figured into the price range and is being carefully monitored.
Renninger said her firm will review costs related to the project multiple times and provide estimates with newer numbers moving forward, if necessary.
“You’ll be kept in the loop as we update the numbers and the project evolves,” Renninger said.
Boyd suggested the board prioritize the various components of the renovation project.
“If we do run out of funds, we’ll get what we really need,” Boyd said.
Superintendent David Foley said the new plan provides improved security, puts student drivers on the same side of Knoch Road as the school, renovates the upstairs science labs and classrooms, moves visual arts closer to performing arts, and allows the cafeteria to be used for learning purposes as well.
“I think this is a really good spot to start with,” Foley said.
The public is invited to attend the plan’s presentation on Wednesday.