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Local

Saratoga school district officials in Morris peek at first new building estimates

'We need alternates' members said

The Saratoga School District is planning a building addition, tentatively set for completion in 2020.
The Saratoga School District is planning a building addition, tentatively set for completion in 2020.

The Saratoga School Board Finance Committee met on Monday night to discuss updates to the building addition scheduled for completion by fall 2020. Cory Boaz of Studio GC architecture gave an estimate of $13.7 million in total probable cost for the extensive construction and renovation project. The estimation falls above the school’s mandate of $10.3 million granted by a referendum which passed in November of 2018.

The project is not yet out to bid. Boaz said that with interest rates going down, he is confident that bids from construction companies will fall under his projected cost.

The proposed plan would renovate some parts of the building, including the small gymnasium, and add in new areas, such as new classrooms and STEAM laboratories.

James Rachlin, president of Meristem Advisors LLC, gave a presentation on strategies to update the referendum’s bonds to accommodate higher project costs.

This strategy would extend the time that the school pays off its loans without increasing the debt service, the amount that the school spends each year to pay off the loan. Rachlin estimated that with lower interest rates, the school could afford to spend about $11 million for the same repayment plan that was projected during the referendum.

Board member Mike Wright said he was uneasy about the project being estimated over budget.

“That’s kind of like going to buy a small house, interest rates go down, and you go ahead and buy a bigger house,” Wright said. “We should try to get a deal on the small house instead.”

Superintendent Kathy Perry
suggested asking for both full and alternate bids from construction
companies that would feature some parts of the project taken out to save on cost.

Boaz said the project should go out for bid by mid-September and would need to be approved by the full school board during their meeting during the third week of October.

Perry said that most class sizes in the school are about 27 children per teacher, with four units per grade. She said the project would allow for a fifth unit per class and lower the student-teacher ratio while preparing for a future increase in population.

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