The District 233 school board at its Tuesday meeting accepted a report on costs to close out the Fine Arts addition at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. The total was $16.37 million.
The board was able to use reserve funds to cover construction costs and budgeted for additional expenses.
“Speaking for the staff, we’d like to thank the board for their support and guidance,” said Superintendent Von Mansfield. “What we now have is one of the finest facilities, I believe, across the country for our students … We’re extremely satisfied with the resources that are provided to our students at the highest level.”
After years of discussion and planning, the board approved a $13.98 million contract with Cosgrove Construction of Joliet in May 2019 and work got underway at that time. The project called for construction of a 30,000-square-foot music wing and a black box performing arts space built onto the South Building, and another 9,000 square feet of space converted for the fine arts programs.
Several change orders boosted the cost to $14.34 million. Those included removing a support column in the fine arts area. When that work was started, crews discovered there were poor soil conditions that required adjustments. The space redesign also required adding a door.
As winter months approached, the school’s underground water main sprang a leak, not once but five times. It was to be replaced as part of the music wing work, but that emergency required crews on site and an adjustment to schedules. The project budget did allow for cost overruns and winter weather allowances, said Ed Wright of DLA Architects, the school’s architectural firm that designed the project and supervised the work.
Wright said cost overruns were 2.5% over the original $13.98 cost projection. He noted that that 2.5% is within industry standards.
The final cost includes approximately $2 million in additional expenses for architectural and engineering fees, utilities, furniture and other miscellaneous costs, said Lawrence Cook, District 233 business manager. Those costs were not part of the construction cost but rather were built into the District 233 budget and approved by the school board, he said.
Construction was completed early in the year, and the new spaces are being used on a limited basis until students return to a full-time schedule.
The board approved a technology budget of $122,725. The budget is much lower than expected because the board earlier approved spending $232,978 for 750 Chromebooks for the income freshman class, and $18,750 for Google licensing. Purchasing the devices in March gave H-F certainty that it would have the devices by the start of the 2021-22 school year. It also saved the district $7,000 in Google licensing fees.
Steve Richardson of the technology department said the purchases are spread across all departments for “a positive impact in the classroom,” including a computerized cutting machine for the advanced clothing construction class, wireless access points in B and G buildings, a Zoom recorder for film classes, an articulated document camera for the sculpture class, and an all-in-one printer, scanner, copier for the library.
The board agreed to transfer $1.34 million from the general fund to the debt service fund to balance the fund at the end of the year. Cook said the fund was lower than expected because of “slower, lower tax collections.”
A second transfer of $1 million from the general fund to balance the capital projects fund was approved. The only way funds are placed in the capital projects fund is through a fund transfer or accrued interest.
Cook said he budgeted $150,00 for a roof replacement project, but the work was expanded. The cost is now $450,000. A change order for the Fine Arts project also was higher than expected.