District adds on upgrades to school remodel

RANCHO SANTA FE — Thanks to the confidence and generosity of its general contractor, the Rancho Santa Fe School District board of directors was able to include all but one upgrade in the reconstruction of R. Roger Rowe School.
After receiving final state approval last month, C.W. Driver put the project out to bid. At the July 8 meeting, senior project manager Dave Christensen told board members the construction cost estimate came in about $1.1 million below the approved preliminary guaranteed maximum price of $3.4 million.
That allowed the board to apply the difference to any of 12 value engineering items, or upgrades, which totaled $2.6 million. Eliminating the approximately $1 million synthetic turf field allowed the board to include almost all of the other 11 upgrades.
Some choices required little discussion. For $369,000, everyone agreed to upgrade the stucco finish so it matched other buildings in the community. Most approved of spending $350,000 for aluminum-clad windows that will match those at the golf club.
Board members all liked the idea of installing an integrated building system that would allow communication among all electronic devices. By making the new school a “smart” building, things such as air conditioning, heat and lighting could be controlled via computer.
It would save money in the long run and provide a security enhancement by allowing a complete lockdown in seconds. It currently takes about 90 minutes to open and close the school. Remote access would also eliminate the need for someone to unlock and lock restrooms for community groups that use the field and facility after hours. The district would also save money by no longer having to rekey the building, which it does every four to six years.
Although the board had the option of wiring the school and adding the system later, board member Jim Cimino said it may be better to “do it right the first time.”
“Doing it right the first time costs money,” his colleague Jim Depolo said.
Seeing board members struggling to make decisions on that and some other items, Christensen offered to decrease his company’s construction contingency by nearly 1 percent, which allowed the board to adopt all the upgrades except the field, which they said could be installed after the project is completed. The contingency is a fund used by the general contractor to cover costs for items that may have been missed during the bidding process.
“I’m that comfortable with my team’s evaluation of all the bids,” Christensen said. “My boss will probably kill me though.”
Although the board unanimously approved the upgrades, President Carlie Headapohl didn’t support eliminating the field. She said the field would benefit the entire community more so than some of the other items in terms of use and aesthetics. “I think most people would value the field over windows,” she said.
Headapohl said she was also concerned about applying all available funds to upgrades since any project has the potential to run over budget. Board members said they could always eliminate items such as cast-in-place concrete benches, enhanced concrete paving with color and etching and decorative steel fencing that will be installed in lieu of chain link.
Other upgrades that were approved include a two-piece clay tile roof, corbels under the walkway cover, custom solid wood doors on the administration and multipurpose buildings and some additional shrubbery.
The value engineering, or VE, items were included in the original construction estimate at a base price. Had the construction estimate come in at $3.4 million or higher, those upgrades could have been eliminated without affecting the function or major aesthetics of the buildings, Christensen said.
“The VE process is a sound approach to building a project,” he said. “It allows the school district to control the budget.”
With soft costs such as permits, engineering and architectural fees, desks and other furnishings, the total cost is now estimated at $39.5 million. The old school has been demolished and construction crews are on schedule to meet an Aug. 19 deadline for teachers to move into temporary portables for the upcoming school year.

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