DANVILLE — The Danville school district is moving forward with the East Park Elementary School renovation, despite two school board members' concerns about the architectural costs.
School board members on Wednesday voted 4-2, with Gina McGuire absent, to hire Schmidt Associates to provide architectural services for the project, the last of the district's three major school renovations it's doing over a three-year period.
The district will pay the Indianapolis firm $675,000 to prepare design plans and bid specifications, etc., and reimburse the firm's expenses.
Board members Frank Young and Dan Brown, who opposed the move, questioned the fee amount.
"I don't see the justification for the tremendous different in price," said Young, who was comparing the fee to the $561,000 that the district paid the firm for the South View Middle School renovation.
The project calls for making the same repairs that were done at South View and are being done at North Ridge Middle School including replacing the flat roof with a sloped metal one, replacing the original windows, installing a new HVAC system, updating plumbing and electrical systems, recladding the gym, painting and repairing sidewalks and driveways. While building a cafeteria using the existing kitchen will be included as an alternate bid, the project doesn't call for building a cafetorium, a significant cost in the other two renovations.
"Surely you've learned something from South View and North Ridge" that would save the district money, Brown added.
Principal architect Anna Marie Burrell explained that while the three schools were built at the same time and share similar design plans, "they're each their own animal." She pointed out kitchens and boiler rooms are in different locations, while others pointed out East Park requires more road work than South View did, all of which will affect the overall cost.
Burrell said that because of the good relationship the firm and district have, the firm has charged the district a fee that's 5.6 percent of the overall cost with each of the three projects. That's less than the industry standard of 7 percent, building and grounds director Ron Henton said.
Others said they believe the price is fair.
"Schmidt has always been low and done excellent work," board President Bill Dobbles said, adding the firm has worked for the district for years.
Superintendent Mark Denman pointed out that Schmidt's fee for East Park is $30,000 less than its fee for North Ridge. He also said even though South View's construction costs rose by $2 million, the firm didn't come back and charge the district more money.
Under a project time line, Schmidt will begin design work this month and be ready to ask the board for permission to bid the work in November. The district would open bids in December, and the board would award them later that month. Construction would begin over Christmas break.