Niagara Falls Board of Education members will soon vote on more than $222,500 worth of additional work on the new Niagara Street Elementary School.

The extra work, commonly referred to as change orders, range from a $3,000 upgrade of the school’s pool lift to $53,777 to increase the building’s emergency systems. It will be paid for out of a $2 million contingency budget, which continues to dwindle but is expected to be enough to finish the school’s construction.

“We’re still on budget and we’re going to be on time too,” School Superintendent Carmen Granto announced during a recent school board worksession.

The total construction budget for the new school sits at $18.2 million, an increase of $1.4 million from the original budget. Soft costs such as furniture and equipment for the building are expected to bring the total price tag close to $25 million.

The budget increase was due to numerous change orders needed by contractors to deal with unforeseen expenses. A major money sucker was cleaning up 12,000 tons of contaminated soil found at the school’s site last summer. That alone added up to a $518,000 change order.

In addition, the district has so far been hit with a $70,000 cost to repair three steal beams that had started to bend slightly in the school’s community wing, which will house the cafeteria, gymnasium, pool and auditorium. The final cost, which is expected to exceed $100,000, will eventually be picked up by the project’s architects because it was determined a design mistake was the cause of the problem.

Kelly Culp, on-site project manager for Rollins Construction Management, reported last week all of the repair work is nearing completion and the school building’s windows are expected to be installed this week.

In addition to the pool lift and emergency systems upgrades, the new batch of change orders also includes $27,500 for additional power and computer stations in the school’s future media center and $25,000 to install a depressurization system underneath the new school site to properly vent any remaining fumes leftover from the contaminated soil.

“That is something the Department of Health told us we have to do,” Culp said about the ventilation system.

Board members are expected to approve the list of change orders later this month or next month. Before moving ahead, however, a final price has to be attached to some of the extra work. Culp examines each change order request and researches the proper cost before an agreement is made with the subcontractors.

“I’m very confident with the numbers that have been provided so far,” she reported.

Construction on the new elementary school is expected to be completed in late August — about a week before the scheduled first day of classes.



By the numbers:

n $222,500: Cost of additional work at Niagara Street Elementary

n $18.2 million: Construction budget for school

n $1.4 million: Increase from original budget

n $3,000: Cost to upgrade school’s pool lift

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