Board OKs $87.24M Max High School Cost

Daily News-Record 11/6/19
The Harrisonburg School Board voted in favor of an $87.24 million guaranteed maximum price of a new high school at Tuesday’s meeting.
Following a presentation and breakdown of the cost by local contractor Nielsen Builders Inc., the board unanimously approved the price for the school to open in 2022.
“ It feels like a safe price just thinking about our community and some of the numbers that were put out into the public. To have it come under $90 million — I mean, that’s beautiful,” board member Obie Hill said.
Voting in favor were Chairwoman Deb Fitzgerald, Hill, Kaylene Seigle, Andy Kohen, Nick Swayne and Kristen Loflin.
The guaranteed maximum price is the top dollar amount the contractor has to build the school on property south of Stone Spring Road between Interstate 81 and South Main Street.
Jim DeLucas, of Nielsen Builders, said the only way the company will go over is if the School Board wants to make a change to the approved scope. “For instance, if you say, ‘I want to add another 5,000 square feet,’ then we would give you a new price for that,” DeLucas said.
The cost breakdown shows the site work will be $ 16.5 million, about $275,000 per acre.
The site plan for the 60- acre parcel shows parking lots, a sports stadium and other sports fields, a walking trail that will connect with a shared- use path, team locker rooms and concession stands, among other things.
The cost of the building is $63.25 million, $239.97 per square foot.
DeLucas said the $239 figure is below the state average for high schools in Virginia.
The total building size is 263,595 square feet.
It will have a three-story educational wing in the front, a cafeteria, gym and auxiliary room.
The unnamed school will have 1,200 students, with a capacity of 1,500, but DeLucas said either end of the educational wing has room for expansion down the road.
The design cost will total $7.45 million.
DeLucas said 55% of the project will be handled by Harrisonburg and Rockingham County contractors, and 75% are in the Valley.
“I think this is a wonderful example of the partnering and cooperation between everyone,” Kohen said.
With the School Board’s final vote, City Council will hear the same presentation from Nielsen Builders at its Nov. 12 meeting.
Council will have its first reading of the proposal on Nov. 26 and a second reading on Dec. 10.
If all goes according to plan, Nielsen Builders will break ground Dec. 16.
“ I am pleasantly surprised based on how everything kind of went big and then we kind of scaled back, and I’m really pleasantly surprised by the final number,” Swayne said. “ I thought it was going to be higher and if you compare this to high schools that have been built recently in Virginia, we’re about $ 15- 20 million under what they could be built.”
Craig Mackail, the city’s chief operating officer, said there will be soft costs, which will include furniture fixtures, technology and permitting for things like water runoff. Those are estimated to cost around $ 8 million. The school is responsible for those funds.
Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent Michael Richards said operational expenses, such as hiring new faculty, will go under his operational budget.