File photo: Andover Public Schools

Preliminary cost estimates released Thursday put the cost of renovating Andover High School at $567 million — making the estimated $480.9 million to $503.8 million to build a new school seem like a bargain.

The higher estimate discussed by the AHS Building Committee at its Thursday morning meeting includes renovating the Collins Center, while the lower estimate for a new school would replace the Collins Center with an auditorium in the new school.

The building committee has stressed for months the preliminary estimates released Thursday are “high level,” and a more accurate cost estimate would not be finalized until architects complete the more detailed schematic design. On Monday, the committee voted to delay requesting $1.3 million for the schematic design at May’s town meeting over concerns about the town nearing its state-mandated debt limit.

The committee has also acknowledged getting Town Meeting and voter approval for a new school without help from the Massachusetts School Building Authority would be a tough sell, even before the cost estimates put the potential price of a new school near a half billion dollars.

File photo/Andover Public Schools

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