The auditorium renovation project at Lakeland Union High School is raising the eyebrows of school board members as they face rising – and unexpected – costs resulting from numerous change orders.
The school board’s building and grounds committee had wanted to meet Friday with representatives of the project’s architectural firm, Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) of Wausau for an explanation. That meeting however was cancelled Thursday because not enough information was available.
Director of Business Services Greg Kopp was blunt in his assessment: “Throughout this process the architects, in my mind, haven’t done a great job in designing this project and maintaining it. What we’re hearing from the contractors is that the drawings in many cases were not put together with enough details.”
The budget committee Wednesday briefly reviewed a list of “change orders” totaling over $180,000, which has nearly burnt through the $188,323 in construction contingencies the board authorized. The estimate for construction was for $1,888,230; with the 10 percent contingency it brought construction costs to $2,071,554. That doesn’t include architectural fees of $205,000 SEH has billed.
Committee members are upset that $41,600 in roof vents required by building codes was somehow missed in the original drawings. And they wondered why exit lights – a $3,600 change order cost – were not in the original budget.
Looming also is upwards of $177,000 in upgraded theatrical lighting. Kopp said the board could elect to use the existing lighting; an outcome he said “would not be ideal.”
“Sounds like an interesting conversation coming up,” said board member Joe Fahrenbach of Friday’s meeting.