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Friday, December 3, 2010

Madison New Gym Actually Over $5 Million?

In response to my post questioning the $2.9 million price tag cited by the Madison school district for its proposed new gym, I get the following comment on my KELO blog from Tim S.:

As a Construction Project Manager/Estimator if I were to put a conceptional estimate number to a 42,500SF Gymnasium for this area of the country the costs would probably be somewhere around $121.39 per SF = $5,159,075.

In the current bidding market we have seen most public projects coming in at an average of 20% less than the anticipated cost estimates, so if that holds true the cost could be reduced to around $4,127,260. Most of the time they can get creative with cost estimates by not including certain things or by creating lots of alternate bid items to achieve their end means. Not being able to see the full breakdown it is possible that the 2.9 million is for just the gym area alone and does not include other supporting areas. Estimates are always just educated guesses and the more information available the better you end number will be.

Just My Two Cents.

Two cents... which by Madison math would actually be four cents?


  1. Michael Black12/03/2010 11:29 AM

    The $16.9 million project is a total package and not a line item thing. The way the architect drew the plans up means that expansion and relocation of the fine arts (auditorium, band, chorus, storage) means sacrificing the current gym space. Those renovations are listed over $2 million and that is without building new. By keeping the gym is its present location, many of the problems will not be able to be fixed. The band and chorus rooms will not be moved. The auditorium will not gain dressing rooms. The locker rooms will still have community showers.

    I believe that the board is looking out for the best interests of the patrons of the school district. We need to look at education as an investment and not an expense.

    Now let's say that the bond issue is rejected. The problems are not going to go away. There will be a series of bond proposals until one of them passes. The longer the process drags on, the higher the interest rates will climb and the building costs will go up.

    Let's assume that we will face a two year delay in starting the project. Instead of a 20% discount on bids from contracts, we will pay maybe 10-20% more than a standard bid now. Interest rates will rise to 3% to 6% from current rates which will add $3 to $7 million for payments over the term of the bond. The school board will be forced to dramatically cut back its remodel, only doing what is absolutely necessary. The whole process will divide the community as subsequent bond issues are debated: once a voter says "NO!" to a tax increase, the irritation will only grow will further votes.

    In the end, the taxpayers could easily end up paying even more money and ending up with a facility that has few of the major problems addressed, only the critical ones.

  2. I see a lot of creative math and crystal-ball projections from people with strong opinions. Cory makes a point: How could this gym be so much less? Rod, how could it be? You were there for the first one. Would our school board shell game to get what they want? People do it all the time. I would hate to think they would, but trust is hard to come by these days.

  3. Michael Black12/03/2010 5:14 PM

    I came across an interesting statistic for you all to read:

    In the past 40 years (with a two-month exception in early 1998, one week in April 2006, and Sept to Nov 2006), there has not been a 6-month period during which interest rates did not change at least 50 basis points—interest rates are much more volatile than most investors realize. As history demonstrates, almost half of the time, interest rates change by more than 1.5% (and over 25% in percentage terms) over all 6-month periods.

    The 6/50 Rule http://www.crestmontresearch.com/content/irates.htm

    What this means is that we can expect rates to go up very soon. They are not going to go lower.

  4. John, I can't imagine the district would purposely toss numbers around that aren't accurate, but when putting up new construction, especially an adult-size gymnasium, the cost per square foot is relatively cheap because it is basically a large shell. The real money is when you add extra rooms, wiring, plumbing and ceilings, along with furniture, seats, desks, etc., which a gym has very little of. Some of the real big money will be remodeling of the auditorium with new seats, changing the HS gym into a two-story area, adding the new library/media center to the front of the building, remodeling the old HS library and the additions to the west side of the HS. Those are intense areas that will carry higher square foot costs. What it comes down to is whether we believe our students deserve a 21st Century high school. If a person simply focuses on the gym, we lose sight of the learning benefits of the entire remodeling project. Is there a square foot figure out there for West Central's second gym that is just being completed in Hartford?


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