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Dixon High construction costs increase by $2.5 million

November 17, 2018

DIXON – Construction costs at Dixon High School have gone up about $2.5 million since major renovations began in May, and the School District is looking at ways to cover the increase.

Work being done on a long list of improvements in the summer resulted in unexpected cost increases including an additional $1.6 million in masonry work, $541,372 in heating ventilation and air conditioning, $305,431 in plaster repairs, and $70,300 in plumbing. The bump in the budget comes about 5 months after it was reported the school’s overhaul was projected to come in nearly $3 million under budget.

“There are a lot of unknowns when starting a project of this magnitude and we didn’t find them until demolition,” said Kevin Schultz, the school district’s director of building and grounds.

Options for covering the costs include taking out additional bonds, reallocating health-life safety funds, using its 1 percent county sales tax currently being used for bond payments, or axing projects.

The largest increase, masonry, involves replacing old cast stone and brick and redirecting water flow around all of the school’s windows.

“When we opened up the walls above the windows, we saw just how big the lintels were and how to correct water infiltration issues the original 1929 structure had, ” Schultz said.

The $541,372 HVAC increase comes from working in areas of the building where there were no original blueprints to go off of.

“Portions of the gymnasium and auditorium had no original drawings, so we ran into unknown structural columns when we started to install plumbing, electrical, and HVAC lines,” he said.

The rerouting of those lines includes installing sump pumps to direct the flow around grade beams – a reinforced concrete beam that transmits the load from a bearing wall into spaced foundations such as pile caps or caissons – also factored into the $70,300 plumbing increase.

The increased cost of plaster work, by $305,431, came after finding damage on the inside of walls that needed to be repaired and repainted.

David Blackburn, the district’s business manager, said the district is working on a few options to pay for the increase that will be presented at the next School Board meeting.

In January, the board approved issuing up to $15 million in alternate revenue bonds for renovations at Dixon High School, Jefferson Elementary School and Washington Elementary School.

The board only issued $10.7 million of the bonds in April, to save on interest payments, leaving $4.3 million to cover future projects.

That $4.3 million is already spoken for for other projects, so the district will still have to find a way to pay for the $2.5 million increase.

The district can save about $550,000 by eliminating the girls locker room renovation, moving the library to the second floor and renovating the science lab, Schultz said.

The major overhaul in improvement work, which will continue during the next 2 years, also includes $21.4 million in health-life safety bonds approved last year, which are more restrictive on what they can be used for, and work at all the schools is expected to total $37 million.

Some of the main construction work includes installing geothermal heating and cooling at the three schools, adding a gym and kitchen at Jefferson, elevator improvements at Jefferson and Washington, and updated electrical systems to all three schools.

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