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KHS budget holds its course

POULSBO — Like many large-scale construction projects, there are still some variables left to tackle in the North Kitsap School District’s bid to build an 800-student high school in Kingston. But the project’s budget is not among them.

Following a report Thursday night from design firm Bassetti Architects, the school board agreed that a contractor can be sought beginning Jan. 18 for the new school project, one that will cost approximately $24.5 million.

About six months after the board approved the final designs for the high school, several of the project’s costs have grown — but a contingency budget combined with revenues from logging the site have balanced these expenses.

“Those things offset most of the upside increases,” said Bassetti’s Architect Don Brubeck. “Given the price escalation from the past few months, we feel pretty good.”

The price escalations Brubeck referred to lie mainly in the cost of steel, which rose $973,000 higher than the anticipated cost. The second largest increase (at $96,000) was the installation of fencing around the project, mandated by the Kitsap County Commissioners during the appeal to the district’s conditional use permit.

The contingency will cover about $661,000 and logging of the site produced revenues of $73,000. Add in other small expenses and revenues and the KHS budget is only over its Maximum Allowable Construction Cost by $29,215. Given the size the project, the expense concerned neither Brubeck nor the school board.

Brubeck added that designs for the school are 95 percent complete and site development activity permits from the county required to build the school should be completed by the end of the year. Following approval from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the project can go out to bid in mid-January.

Brubeck said the beginning of the year is perhaps the best time to go to contractors because it is typically their lowest period for business activity.

“January is a great time to go out to contractors,” Brubeck said. “They’ll be the most hungry (for work).”

There is a list of 10 alternate construction options for the school that could be added by the board should extra money become available due to lower-than-expected project costs. Among them are a synthetic track and artificial turf field, student lockers, portable bleachers at the school’s track and field and sound systems for the music and fitness rooms.

Board member Ed Strickland asked if the gas and air facilities could be pulled out of the science labs to save money.

“I taught for 30 years and I never learned how to use one,” Strickland said. Brubeck told the board member he’d look into the matter.

Board president Catherine Ahl said she had one concern that “raised the hair on the back of my neck.”

That “hair raiser” was the language used in a back-up plan for the school that, should the project be thrown into a financial crisis, would allow for a smaller, 600-student high school to be built.

“There’s no purpose to build then (should that occur),” she said. “That school was voted on to be an 800-student high school.”

Appeal to be heard by

superior court in March

Still looming over the project is an appeal to the district’s conditional use permit by site neighbors Jeff Owen and Terry Patterson. After their initial appeal was struck down by the Kitsap County Commissioners in late August, the Kingston residents took their case to Superior Court, where it will be heard March 15. The appeal is based on environmental concerns stemming from the decommissioned missile site near the planned school site, as well as zoning issues.

Depending upon the judge’s decision — and how long it takes — the school’s planned starting construction date of April 1, 2005, could be in jeopardy.

“If we can go out to bid on the (current) schedule, then school should be ready to open by the school holiday in December 2006,” Brubeck said. “If the court case delays things further, then everything stretches out, which is a schedule concern and also a financial risk.”

The school’s opening date is slated for the school year of 2007-08, though there are potential plans, should the project be completed mid-year, to move a section of students in early 2007.

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