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There was mixed news Wednesday night as the Cleveland Hill School Board made tentative decisions on the district's capital project.

Before going over color selections, Cannon Architects first moved through the hit list of "alternate" items that might need to be cut from the $28.5 million project.

In all, there are 11 items -- some downgrades and some outright eliminations -- that could possibly lower the total cost by roughly $813,000. The action was suggested by architects as a precautionary measure, in case bids come in higher than expected.

"It gives the district some flexibility in the cost," said Cannon designer Christopher Less. "It's kind of like a shock absorber so they have a softer landing if they need it."

The original plan approved by voters has a 5 percent contingency factor built in for just this purpose.

However, Cannon and business officials advised raising that to 7 percent as a more realistic buffer.

Less said that doesn't mean items on the list are now definitely gone. They will still go for bid, but could be taken out later, one at a time, if bids come in over the budgeted allowances for the total project.

Topping the "floating list" is the preliminary support structure for construction of a future running track.

Although the track is not part of the renovation project, if the support structure is not built into the new gymnasium, the second-story track could not be put in later.

Board members were concerned about eliminating the option of a future track by limiting the structure. The track was promoted before the bond vote as a future "wish-list" item that would be for community use.

But Cannon architect Hans Kullerkupp said he believes the $50,000 estimate for the work is inflated, and reassured the board that it would likely still be included in the plan.

The biggest potential savings for an alternate item is $300,000 for optional air-conditioning. Another $100,000 could be shaved off by deleting exterior toilet rooms at the back of the complex.

On the brighter side, the board also reviewed interior design and color selections that will define the "reinvented" school complex.

Durable laminates, porcelains and textiles scan the spectrum in the school colors of blue and gold, with hues of teal, mauve and red. Academic areas and grade levels will be individually color-coded.

Vaulted glass ceilings for the main corridor, and an estimated $100,000 earmarked for the courtyard landscaping are still in the project.

"The courtyard is something we feel is a centerpiece to the school," said Less. "It could be a spectacular opportunity."

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