Supply chain issues and inflation have forced the cutbacks on some features of the new West Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2024-25 school year.
“It’s not good news, but it’s very reflective of what’s going on in the whole country, and the whole world,” West Elementary School Building Committee Chair Joel Blumstein (left, in photo above) told the Andover Finance Committee at its meeting Wednesday. “It’s a tough time to be doing any construction project.”
The $151.6 million includes $119.2 million in actual construction costs. When the 90 percent construction documents were reviewed earlier this year, the project was about $5.5 million over budget. Blumstein said the committee was able to make up some of the difference by taking $2 million from a construction contingency and moving $500,000 from other budget items that had cost less than estimates.
The remaining $3 million, however, required the committee to make some “difficult decisions,” Blumstein said. The building committee made about 25 changes, including cutting one of the two elevators in the building’s design, eliminating one of two access points to the roof for maintenance staff, eliminating some built in “reading nooks” and changing or cutting back on certain materials.
“Some of these things we could add back in at some point if we find we’re under budget,” Blumstein said.
Previously on Andover News: Latest Updates On Andover School, Government Building Projects
Blumstein said the committee avoided changes that would have had a direct impact on education in the new school. He also said the committee considered and rejected putting the project on hold until costs came down or going back to town meeting to ask for more money to get the project back under budget.
The decision to eliminate one elevator was a “hard one,” Blumstein said. The building will have two elevator shafts, but the committee will only purchase on elevator, with hopes of adding the second one at a later date. “It’s nice to have two if one goes down,” he said.
The committee could be forced to make additional cuts. Final construction bids were due Monday, and those bids are being reviewed by the project manager. The project manager is looking at the bids received this week to “see how they compare to estimates.
“The big question now is bidding out the rest of the project,” Blumstein said. “I really don’t know what [the project manager’s review] is going to show, but we should have that information soon. If we’re over budget, we’re going to have some difficult decisions on what to do.”
About 25 percent of the trade bids have already been awarded. Blumstein expects bidding on the entire project to be finalized by November. The project had been on budget when the 60 percent construction documents were reviewed last winter.