Everett School Board’s changes could add $3.1 million to office plans

  • Sun Nov 20th, 2011 7:45pm
  • News

By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Everett School District’s new administration building could cost $3.1 million more than previously expected, with the price now up to an estimated $26.4 million.

One of the reasons for the added cost is that school board members want a larger building — now 66,365 square feet. It is to be built on school district property south of Everett Memorial Stadium, on Broadway near 41st Street.

The main entrance will be on the west end of the site, near the parking area used for AquaSox games. It is scheduled to open in October 2013.

When the school board approved the project in July, the cost of what was then a 62,000-square-foot building was estimated at $23.3 million.

School board members said they wanted the new building to be useful for 50 to 75 years, rather than just what’s needed now.

Part of the increase in construction cost is addition of 925 square feet of space on the building’s first and second floors and 6,491 more square feet in the basement to allow for future expansion, said Mike Gunn, director of facilities and operations.

The additional basement space will increase the building’s long-term flexibility, he said.

These two steps are expected to add $800,000 to its cost.

Examples of other increases include a city-required storm drainage detention system, expected to cost $400,000; a larger stair landing required for fire safety, estimated at $12,000; upgrading insulation for energy efficiency, expected to cost $85,000; and special pilings and other work needed to build on the site, estimated to cost $135,000.

That adds up to about $1.4 million. The rest of the added costs are design changes and updated cost estimates.

What the district actually pays will depend on bids submitted by contractors, which means the cost could be lower than the estimated $26,430,000.

The School Board voted 3-0 to approve the expansion and layout of the building during a special meeting Tuesday. Those voting for the project were board members Kristi Dutton, Jeff Russell and Ed Petersen, board president.

Two board members, Carol Andrews and Jessica Olson, left the meeting about 20 minutes prior to the vote, because of scheduling conflicts.

Petersen initially suggested that the board delay voting on the changes in size and design, perhaps scheduling a decision for the next regular meeting on Nov. 22.

“This is more than we had planned on in July,” he said. Petersen said he also was concerned about the amount of money available in the school district’s capital fund “and how much we can afford to do.” Gunn said that he had confirmed that the district “could afford to do the building with these changes.”

The district has a capital fund to pay for all construction, ranging from new administration building to schools. Every year, the district adds money to the fund from bonds and the state.

Before leaving the meeting, Andrews said she backed making the changes to enlarge the building. She said she would like even more space for community activities. “Thinking 10 to 15 years down the road, it doesn’t look like enough space,” she said.

Ultimately, Petersen noted that with three members present, the board still had a quorum, meeting the legal requirement to take action.

Dutton made the motion to move ahead on the project. “This investment will save taxpayers’ dollars down the road by not having to go back and ask for more money,” she said.

Dutton said she supported adding space on the first and second floors, in part to add capacity for community meetings and other similar events.

“I see this as a once-in-50-years opportunity,” Petersen said.

Olson said she was astonished that the board voted Tuesday. “I didn’t realize there would be a vote on it,” she said.

Mary Ann Elbert, who was defeated earlier this month in her bid to be elected to the school board, was the only member of the public at the meeting.

“I have a problem with the overall cost of the project,” she said.

The building’s square footage has increased since the board approved the project in July, she said. “Maybe it totally makes sense to add in that extra stuff. But it sure looks like they have additional capacity without adding it on.”

The project is scheduled to go to bid in April, with an award in May and construction by June, Gunn said. Bids can’t be let sooner because architects have to finalize drawings and other documents, he said.

Over the past several months, Everett school board members and district administrators visited other office buildings in Western Washington as architects began drawing plans for the building.

Lake Washington School District officials said they wished that their administrative building had been constructed so that add-ons wouldn’t be so costly.

That was one of the reasons the Everett School Board decided to add space in the basement that won’t be used right away.

“Build it right the first time,” Russell said.

More costs could add up later — depending on options the School Board may choose later. The district will ask contractors to submit proposals for several other items, too. These include installing energy-saving LED lights estimated to cost $113,000; a second elevator costing $150,000; a “green” roof at the main entry, or one that has plants to reduce summer heat and absorb runoff, costing $40,000; and a driveway to the site’s parking lot for an estimated $273,000.

“We think all these items are important,” Gunn said. “We haven’t built them into the project yet because we’re trying to control the costs on the project.”

These and other improvements could potentially add another $576,000 to the building’s cost.

The construction cost of the building itself is $19.57 million, Gunn said.

About $6.6 million was added to the tab for state taxes, architectural and engineering fees, furniture and equipment, permits and a cushion for changes that need to be made during construction, he said.

Building plans show the school board’s meeting room will be on the first floor and have seating for 108 people. The current board room is cramped, and members of the public are often left standing in the hall as they wait to speak to the board.

There also will be temporary office space for community groups.

Talks will continue over the next several months on which groups might use the space, Gunn said. But the school district has talked with the YMCA, the Workforce Develop Council and the Everett Schools Foundation about the possibility of having a place to work in the administration building.

Administrative offices will be on the second floor, with office space for the superintendent and staff working in special educational services, curriculum and facilities and planning.

Sharon Salyer 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.