New School Design to Save Millions

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By Matthew Searcy

MT. VERNON -- Mt. Vernon school administrators say delays in construction of a new high school may soon be over. A re-designed building is expected to shave millions of dollars from the cost.

"We have saved in excess of $6 million on the budget estimate," said superintendent Mike Smith.  
 
Last December, construction bids for the high school were well over budget. Architects have worked hard to cut costs for the more than $60 million project, while maintaining as much space as possible.   
 
"We have changed some elevations of the building and various heights of certain sections of the building," explained Smith. "The athletic complex and the gymnasium was a major focus of the redesign effort." 
 
Administrators hope the new plan saves enough money to include a football field and theater.  
 
"We do see both of them as integral pieces to the new school and our educational program," said Smith. 
     
Those plans won't be official until the board begins accepting construction bids in August. 
 
"We feel very confident and hopeful that the bids will come in and those add alternates can be put back into the project," said Smith. 
 
Last fall, bids came in higher than expected, forcing the board to delay construction. There wasn't enough competition because many area contractors were tied up in other projects.  
     
"Some of those projects are winding down for those larger firms and they are now refocusing their interest on this project," said Smith. "That is exciting for us." 
 
The school is scheduled to be ready for students by the fall of 2016. That's a year later than the original plan.   
 
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