Alternatives offered for middle school

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

WINDSOR – It appears the new Bertie County Middle School will have to undergo alterations in design before the first shovel of dirt is turned.

During a Bertie County Board of Commissioners meeting here yesterday (Monday), Bertie education officials pitched a plan well below the $20.6 million projection.

&uot;Based upon the most recent estimates, we are proposing, for your consideration, alternate plans to help lower the overall cost of this project,&uot; said Bertie Superintendent John F. Smith Sr.

Based upon the fact that county officials have a shade over $18.2 million set aside for the new school – including a $6 million commitment from the county – the commissioners agreed to hear Smith’s cost-saving proposal.

Smith offered two alternative plans.

One called for the deletion of a community auditorium at the new school as well as eliminating the service corridor, reduce the lobby size and move the 1,200-seat gym to the center of the building. All totaled, that would shave $3.2 million from the overall cost.

His second alternative was the same as the first, with the exception of a smaller, 900-seat gym. The smaller gym sliced another $1 million from the overall cost, lowering it by $4.2 million.

Smith went on to suggest adding a few items to the project – a front canopy system that protects students from the elements upon exiting or loading the buses; furnishing classrooms and administrative areas; an integrated communications system (TV’s, data wiring, phone system) and providing lights to the athletic fields. These would add $1.1 million back into the project.

The bottom line, including the additions and the architectural/engineering fees, is $17.3 million (for the alternative plan calling for a 1,200-seat gym) or $16.3 million (the plan with the 900-seat gym).

&uot;We are requesting your permission for us to let bids on these two alternative plans,&uot; Smith said. &uot;We know that neither plan includes the auditorium. The auditorium was the wish of the community. It not something proposed by the Board of Education.&uot;

However, Commissioner Norman Cherry Sr. said the proposed auditorium is not a dead issue.

&uot;We have not taken the auditorium off the table,&uot; Cherry noted. &uot;There remains the possibility of it being constructed at another location.&uot;

Getting back to the school construction plans, Cherry was curious if a 900-seat gym would be of ample size.

&uot;I’d hate to see us build something that was too small to begin with,&uot; Cherry noted.

Smith answered by saying that not all of the estimated 900 students would use the gym at one time.

County Attorney Lloyd Smith voiced his concerns over just how quickly would the bids be awarded. His worries were centered on rapidly rising construction costs throughout the nation and having time to lock-in an affordable loan rate for the county’s financial end of the deal.

Smith said the alternative plans would be drawn by the architectural firm and the bids would hopefully be let by July.