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School Board reviews costs, options for new facility - The News Progress: News

School Board reviews costs, options for new facility

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Posted: Friday, June 8, 2018 10:41 am

The Mecklenburg County School Board, during a special called meeting on Tuesday, met with the new school complex architects once again to discuss specifics about the facility plan. 

Representatives from Ballou Justice Upton Architects came before the board to go over some adjustments that have been made to the new combined middle/high school complex after hearing recommendations from Mecklenburg County Public School employees. 

The new facility plan consists of a two-story building that will house both of the county’s middle and high schools in one building, with a dividing wall in the middle to keep the high school and high school students separated. 

Billy Upton of Ballou Justice Upton Architects explained to the board that although the middle and high schools will be in the same the building, the students will be completely separated throughout the school day. 

A rendering of the facility was presented to the board on Tuesday night, but was not fully complete, with specific room designations not yet determined. 

Upton said that the next step, if the board were to move forward with the presented plan, will be to designate classrooms and detail all of the spaces within the facility. 

Upton went on to explain that even with changes being made to the plan, the school facility is still estimated to cost around $108 million without the addition of an auxiliary gym for both the high school and middle school along with cuts being made to the school stadium and field house. 

If the two gyms and adjustments to the stadium/field house were to be added, the overall cost for the project would be approximately $114 million, Upton explained. 

After hearing the project’s potential over budget cost, Superintendent Paul Nichols asked Upton if he could provide the board with a price comparison for an 800 person occupancy auditorium versus a 1,200 person occupancy auditorium. 

Nichols said with the price comparison he hopes to be able to show the community the options not only for the auditorium, but for the other features that may be lost due to budgetary issues, so that possible fundraising can occur to assist in the costs  

Nichols explained that he would like to have an “opportunity to go to some of the locality, that could include Microsoft or others that are willing to give,” to see if sufficient funding can be raised outside of the $100 million budget for some of the features that could be lost. 

Upton said if outside funding is not enough, the only other option to reducing the cost of the main building would be to reduce the square footage, which he did not recommend, but said “we can do it if we need to.” 

Board member Gavin Honeycutt, as clarification, asked Upton if- in his opinion, the budget would need to be near $114 million to build an up to date and adequate school for Mecklenburg’s students. Upton explained that the budget should be close to $114 million and “in no case” should it be less than $108 million, but if it were big sacrifices would need to be made. 

“We owe it to our children to fund an adequate school not an inadequate school,” Honeycutt said.