Price hike averted
WINTON – By making a few superficial changes, the Hertford County Board of Education has averted a possible price increase in the construction costs to build the new Ahoskie Elementary School.
In an emergency meeting held here Tuesday, the local school board listened as a representative of SFL +A Architects, the Raleigh-based firm under contract to design the new school, passed along a bit of unwelcomed news.
“There is a very good possibility that the construction costs for the school may increase by as much as 20 percent over what was initially thought,” said Dr. William Wright, Superintendent of Hertford County Public Schools.
Those construction costs, originally estimated at $12.15 million, comprise the lion’s share of the total project ($14.8 million).
“I commend our school board for looking at all sides of this issue,” Dr. Wright remarked. “One, we all were in agreement that we did not want to go back to our county commissioners and ask for more money to cover the possible increase in construction costs. More importantly we didn’t want to shortchange our students and staff by making major changes to the design of the school, to include reducing the number of classrooms, in order to offset the added construction costs.”
The compromise came with what Dr. Wright referenced as “cosmetic changes” – one of which is decreasing the height of the roof.
“There are a few other minor tweaks made to the design, none are major changes,” he said.
“At this point we’re still projecting the total cost at $14.8 million,” Wright added. “However, no one knows what the actual cost will be until the construction bids are received.”
One other possible change regards the entrance/exit of school buses. The original plan called for that access to be from Ruth Avenue.
“We have asked our architect to go back and study the possibility of designing a service road between Bearfield Primary School and Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center and have the buses enter/exit from Hertford County High School Road,” Dr. Wright stated.
At a meeting in late June of last year, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved one of the three options for the new school – a 57,150 square-foot facility across the street from the current Ahoskie Elementary School. The latter has served students since 1959 and has been a topic of serious discussion since 2011 to replace the aging facility.
The chosen option has room for 400 students (600 core) with 14 classrooms, media center, cafeteria/kitchen, a gym (with a platform stage / no bleachers) and no auditorium. Space will be left vacant to possibly add four classrooms.
The new school’s main entrance will be on First Street (NC 561), adjacent to the Town of Ahoskie Cemetery.
In October, the Commissioners voted unanimously to earmark $14.8 million in revenue to fund the project. Of that amount, $11.3 million is projected to come by way of a bank loan or through the sale of limited obligation bonds.
The remaining $3.5 million was established through an earlier action approved by the Commissioners by combining $2.4 million of the county’s proceeds from the North Carolina Lottery with moving $1.1 million from appropriated fund balance into the School Capital Reserve Fund.
Other estimated costs to round out the projected $14.8 million total include $910,000 in architectural fees, $800,000 for site development, $500,000 for fixtures, furniture and equipment, $260,000 in contingency funding, $100,000 in administrative costs, and $75,000 for testing/geographical surveying.
As of last October, the timeline for this project included having the construction documents phase completed by Feb. 25, 2019; receive all necessary permits by March 25; issue documents for bids by March 28; award the construction bid by April 25; receive LGC approval by June 4; choose the financing method by June 28; begin construction (an estimated 14-month process) in July; and open the new school to students/staff in January 2021.