School Construction Costs

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PdC school facilities upgrade could rise to $19.5 million

School board fighting to keep cost below that level, however

By Ted Pennekamp


A presentation was given regarding the construction budget of the $18.9 million school facilities upgrade project at the Prairie du Chien School Board meeting Monday night.

HSR Associates Construction Administrator Kevin Malin told the board that there are seven change orders that have been formally processed and an eighth change order that hasn’t. These change orders, if eventually approved by the Prairie du Chien Board, could lead to the cost of the project increasing to $19.5 million, said Malin. HSR Associates of La Crosse is the architect for the project. The school district has $19.3 million available to pay for the project, said Malin.

The seven change orders add up to a total of $416,272. The eighth change order consists of 70 items totaling $427,169, said Malin. The biggest item on the eighth change order is the hydraulic orchestra pit lift, which is now estimated to cost $250,000 because the state now says that a wheel chair lift and a second set of stairs are required. Malin told the board the state originally approved of the orchestra pit lift as presented in the plan, and it was originally to have cost approximately $220,000. The state now says it does not approve of the orchestra pit lift unless the wheel chair lift and the second set of stairs are added.

Board member Lonnie Achenbach suggested that HSR and the district could contact the state about the new requirements for the orchestra pit lift in an effort to get the state to reconsider.

“These change orders are disturbing,” said Board President Christine Panka. “Something is always popping up. We’re hemorrhaging money.” Panka asked Malin if HSR and the board could have a review of the project plan in an effort to find areas where there might be possible cost savings. Malin said a project plan review could be arranged. 

“We are now well past the majority of the change order items,” said Malin.

Board member Nathan Gilberts said eliminating the hydraulic orchestra pit lift altogether might be something the board should consider. Malin said eliminating the lift would be cost savings of approximately $200,000.

Malin said HSR asked the state inspector to reconsider the new and unexpected requirements for the lift. The inspector would not budge, said Malin. Achenbach and board member Kyle Kozelka reiterated that there are other avenues to pursue with the state in an effort to override the opinion of the inspector. 

After some further discussion, Malin again told the board the vast majority of change order items are completed.

“From here on out, it will be much smoother sailing,” he said.

None of the change orders have been approved by the school board, which remains in the process of trying to keep cost over-runs to a minimum.

The general overall project involves construction of a new 766-seat auditorium, a new greenhouse, new gymnasiums and support space at the high school; and a gym annex, support space, instrumental music space and technical education space at Bluff View. There will also be playground improvements at Bluff View, along with parking improvements and site upgrades. At B. A. Kennedy, there will be remodeling, renovation and other improvements. Some of the highlights at B. A. Kennedy include numerous upgrades to the library and upgrades to a first grade rest room.

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