QUEENSBURY Architects for the high school capital project have trimmed its cost to below the $40 million target by renovating existing classrooms to create science laboratories and reducing the size of the administrative office space.
The Queensbury school board is planning to vote Nov. 23 on putting the matter out for a Jan. 12 referendum.
Tina Mesiti-Ceas of CSArch told the board Monday the original plan called for two new science laboratories to be built as part of an addition and four classrooms renovated. Instead, four regular classrooms will be renovated to create two science labs and the lost classrooms will be replaced with a four-classroom addition.
She explained the state Education Department gives more aid to general classrooms. Also, architects reduced the size of the administrative space after consulting with staff.
Architect Greg Klokiw explained that the adjustments allowed the district to get about $1 million more in state aid. The project’s new cost estimate is $39.5 million, with $26 million being picked up by state aid. The local share will be about $13.5 million.
The original cost estimate for the work was $45 million. The architects reduced the scope of the site work and number of walls and windows being replaced, however, and will use less expensive materials, according to Klokiw.
School officials wanted the project to be tax neutral. They wanted the local share of the cost to be no higher than existing debt coming off the books. Klokiw said that the changes accomplish that goal.
“The local share of this project would be covered by that retiring debt,” he said.
The project includes addition of a roughly 16,000-square-foot gymnasium to the rear to replace the “wood gymnasium” near the front. The media center would be relocated to the front of the building and a community multi-purpose room. Classrooms would be renovated to create wings for humanities, performing and fine arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), along with breakout space for small group and quiet study.
Secure entrance vestibules are part of the project. Mesiti-Ceas also presented conceptual designs for upgrading the front entrance with a more prominent facade and a curved roof overhang.
Superintendent Douglas Huntley said it is good news the cost has been reduced.
“We don’t have to increase taxes in order to support this project,” he said.