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School theaters move closer to reality

And the costs keep going up

Posted: September 18, 2008 8:48 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

The theaters at Golden Valley and West Ranch high schools are facing more construction delays and the longer it takes to complete the buildings, the more expensive the projects become.

The latest set-back is the result of a bid protest that forced the William S. Hart Union High School District to reject the four lowest bids received for the project, leaving only a bid that exceeds the district estimated cost of the project by $1.4 million.

After consultation with legal counsel, the district staff decided to re-bid the project, which involves adding seating, ceilings, lighting and other finishing touches to the theater shells that were constructed when the schools were built in 2004 and 2005.

"We're going to need to consider allocating additional funds for this project," Mike Otavka, director of new construction for the district, told governing board members at Wednesday's meeting.

Both schools were built with state-regulated "hardship funds," which ran out before the theaters were completed, so the students are left waiting for completion of the 8,000-square-foot auditoriums, which will each seat 580 people. The new completion date is August 2009 with an estimated project budget of $4,692,000.

The cost of the buildout keeps rising for several reasons, including stage rigging cost underestimates, rising fuel costs and the availability of Proposition 1D funds, Otavka said.

"This is a complicated project. The work is being done in the center of an operating campus," Otavka said. "It has unfortunately cost much more to do this later rather than at the time the campuses were constructed."

The good news is that the district should receive $1.27 in Proposition 1D funds from the state. Approval letters will go out in December and the state plans to fund all districts that have applied for funding at the level of funding requested.

Because these Proposition 1D funds are expected, the district was able to enhance the theater projects with upgraded sound and lighting, according to Rob Gapper, chief operations officer for the district.

"The vast majority of the increase has to do with the Proposition 1D money - that's different from adding things to a project that we have to pay for with our own money," Gapper said.

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