Planners trim costs for Bozeman’s second high school
By Gail Schontzler Chronicle Staff Writer Nov 23, 2017
A pedestrian tunnel under Oak Street has been eliminated from the plans for Bozeman’s second high school, one of many changes made to cut construction costs by roughly $10 million.
The school’s entryway façade will have less brick. Some walkways will be asphalt instead of concrete sidewalks. Some interior roads will be eliminated. And classroom hallways where students are expected to collaborate on projects will be 20 feet wide instead of 24.
Those were some of the changes that architects, planners and school officials agreed to informally at Wednesday’s meeting of the school Building Committee.
“We need to get this project finished on time and ready to open” by fall 2020, Superintendent Rob Watson said. “We need to live within that budget. At the same time, we don’t want to cut back on square footage or classrooms. We’re going to need space there.”
“I think we’re making good progress,” said Steve Johnson, deputy superintendent for operations. “These are all tough decisions. … We have to be realistic.”
Earlier this month, Roger Davis, project manager with Langlas & Associates, estimated the cost of the project as envisioned at that point by the architects would be $87 million, or about $10 million over the target of $76 million to $78 million.
The new school is to be constructed on the west side of town between Oak, Cottonwood, Durston and Flanders Mill roads.
Now a pedestrian tunnel that would have cost $1.5 million has been eliminated. Plans still call for the school district to build a soccer field and parking lot on the north side of Oak Street, on land the city owns and wants to build a large sports park. Instead of building a 175-space parking lot for students, plans now call for a smaller 120-space parking lot, probably for teachers or other adults, who could cross four-lane Oak Street with a traffic signal more safely than kids.
Changing some concrete sidewalks to asphalt could save $250,000, planners said. Chuck Winn, assistant city manager, said asphalt doesn’t stand up well over time. Bob Franzen of CTA Architects Engineers said things like that could be listed as separate bid alternatives and added back into the project if contractors’ bids come in below estimates.
Converting some irrigated lawn to native grasses could save $100,000 in construction costs, said Wes Baumgartner of CTA.
Architects suggested keeping some brick around the school’s entry, to reflect Bozeman’s historic downtown, but reducing the amount to save $75,000.
Gone from the design is a slanting roof structure, a modern element originally intended to give the building a transition from the three-story to second-story parts of the building and to hide the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
One of the bigger questions is whether to centralize the HVAC equipment in one place on the roof, housed indoors. That might cost as much as $730,000 more than placing the HVAC equipment on top of the roofs of the auditorium, gym and classroom buildings, exposed to the elements, Johnson said.
Added to the project’s costs is building Annie Street, which the Bozeman City Commission insisted run through the school property as a condition of annexation. That was estimated earlier at around $800,000.
The Building Committee next meets Dec. 14, just before a key School Board meeting Dec. 18, when trustees will vote on approving the design development plans. After that, work can begin on construction drawings.
School planners are working on a tight timetable to break ground next spring so the school can open by the fall of 2020, when growing Bozeman High School is expected to reach its 2,400-student capacity.