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WBSD trimming $1.5M from construction plans

Board will work within referendum budget
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The Wittenberg-Birnamwood School Board is working with its contractors to cut costs after learning last month that estimates for the second phase of the construction projects approved by voters in November are about $1.5 million over budget.

Matt MacGregor, senior project manager from Hoffman Planning Design & Construction, delivered the bad news to the board May 23.

Despite the higher than anticipated costs, the board said it remains committed to staying within the $13.1 million approved by voters in the November referendum.

“I’m confident we will present a project that will stay within the promised referendum amount,” district Superintendent Garrett Rogowski said.

Rogowski said, for example, he is confident that the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the high school, estimated to cost $750,000, can be trimmed significantly.

“An original estimate for the HVAC system included a chiller capable of handling up to 900 people in the building,” he said. “Rarely do we have more than 400 people in the building at any given time, so modifying that will reduce some of the electrical needs.”

Rogowski said the district would not cut the greenhouse, estimated to cost $92,000, planned for the new agriculture building, saying it is an integral part of the agriculture curriculum.

Some areas that could be pared down include the construction trades addition, estimated to cost $66,500, or the $112,000 estimated for galvanized piping maintenance.

The board also could reduce the furniture, fixtures and equipment budget of $118,000 by reusing more of the existing furniture and equipment.

The district also could reduce or eliminate the breakout room in the library, estimated to cost $21,500, or make changes to the technical education toilet area, estimated at $46,500. According to Rogowski, they would be the most likely options if the district can’t make significant cuts to the HVAC expense.

“Now that we’re clear on the work that needs to be done, Hoffman has design experts to decide which design would work best for the school,” Rogowski said.

The board is expected to discuss the project again when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School library and plans to send out bid package No. 2 by mid-July.

In March, the board tweaked plans for the new 7,800-square-foot agriculture building next to the high school by eliminating storage space. In April, it approved construction plans for the first phase of the referendum work, which came in about $50,000 over budget and include new entrances at each of the district’s three schools.

Future phases of the referendum projects include a two-story addition to Wittenberg Elementary-Middle School and two new classrooms at Birnamwood Elementary-Middle School, as well as additional improvements at the high school for the family and consumer science room, technical education area, wood shop, metal shop and small-engine shop.