Officials whittling down middle school price tag

New Barrington Middle School still set to open in Sept. 2019

Posted 7/17/17

As the construction start date nears, school officials are continuing to whittle down costs associated with the Barrington Middle School project.

Building committee co-chairman Patrick Guida said …

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Officials whittling down middle school price tag

New Barrington Middle School still set to open in Sept. 2019

Posted

As the construction start date nears, school officials are continuing to whittle down costs associated with the Barrington Middle School project.

Building committee co-chairman Patrick Guida said officials are about $500,000 away from hitting their "aspirational" goal for total construction costs. That figure is set at $54,250,000.

"We're less than 1 percent in excess of where we ideally want to be," said Mr. Guida, who served on the Barrington School Committee for two decades.

Hitting their goal for construction hard costs would put building committee members in a good position to stay within the $68.4 million bond that was approved by residents. 

Barrington Schools Director of Finance and Administration Ron Tarro cautioned that many of the middle school project costs are dependent on the bidding process. Mr. Guida said the building committee has been relying on two consultants to set realistic market-accurate estimates with project costs.

"We've been diligent about getting multiple estimates," he said.

"Come hell or high water, the price for this project will not exceed $68.4 million."

The process of reducing construction hard costs has been very involved, said the building committee co-chairman. 

"It's been a tremendous amount of work," said Mr. Guida. 

The process started more than a year ago. Mr. Guida said the initial project estimate started at about $80 million, but has been reduced significantly. Officials have altered the plans but maintained much of the new school's original offerings.

Mr. Guida said the new middle school plans still include a three-floor education wing, a student union that includes a cafeteria, and an auditorium and a gymnasium. Some slight adjustments in the plan include less square footage for the food preparation and serving area.

Mr. Guida said the building committee recently authorized the architects — the school department is working with Kaestle Boos Associates — to locate some additional savings through a possible reduction in the "footprint" of the building and/or the change of material used in the exterior of the building. Mr. Guida said that change could mean less glass and more brick on the Lincoln Avenue side of the building.

Officials have about two weeks to finalize the footprint size of the building, said Mr. Guida. 

When will the building open?

Mr. Guida said the middle school project is still on track to hit its Sept. 2019 completion deadline. He said the actual construction work needs to begin by March 2018 in order for the project to be open to students at the start of the 2019 school year.

But before any construction begins, officials must complete the planning, cost reduction, and bidding processes. Mr. Guida said that while some of the costs associated with the project can be altered — he noted the use of "value engineering alternatives" — other costs are set in stone. He said portions of the work are locked in contracts. 

Mr. Guida said the building committee has worked very hard and continues to be focused on delivering a great new school to the town of Barrington.

"I think we've done a very professional job," said Mr. Guida.

The next Barrington Middle School Building Committee meeting will be held Aug. 8.

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