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Lew-Port High School atrium plan likely to be scrapped over cost

When it was planning its $28.8 million capital improvement project two years ago, the Lewiston-Porter School Board had hoped to add an atrium wing with a good-looking entrance at the front of the high school.

But with limited money left in its $23.9 million construction budget, the $1.7 million atrium, set for Phase II of the project, is probably gone.

About $5 million in project money goes for soft costs like $2 million in architect fees, $275,193 for a construction manager, various legal fees and things like $2,500 for insurance and $45,570 for new furniture.

The board found that out Tuesday when it reviewed the almost completed Phase I of the project and the costs associated with it with architect SWBR and construction manager Cannon Design, and then looked at what had been planned for Phase II of the work.

Cannon officials showed the district will have spent $14.8 million on the construction for Phase I compared with the $11 million it initially planned to use on that portion of construction.

Superintendent R. Christopher Roser said the increased Phase I tab was created by rising costs for construction materials and because the district opted to include some of the Phase II work in the first phase.

He said the good news was that with $755,000 in state Expanding Our Children's Education and Learning money and the 4 percent increase in state building reimbursement aid -- up from 72 percent to 76 percent -- for construction, the district will be able to complete all the work in the Primary Education Center, the Intermediate Education Center and Lewiston-Porter Middle School without impacting the community with increased taxes.

The board needs to spend an estimated $5,185,000 on the three schools to complete all the project work planned for them. He said the district had $7.6 million left over to spend on Phase II of construction, and, by being very careful on how the second phase is handled, it could end up having up to $8.6 million to do the remaining work.

Principal Paul J. Casseri said that will not be enough to do all the work planned for the high school. He said he has already written off the atrium addition.

Board member Edward M. Lilly said if it's not necessary, the board shouldn't do it. He said it was more important to do things like install new energy-saving windows around the school.

The more than $6.6 million the board had planned to spend on upgrading the high school, including the new atrium addition, will be a problem because there's not enough money left to do everything.

Roser said the board is going to have to meet, go over all the proposed work and decide what projects should be taken on.

Phase I, which included new sports facilities is 99 percent complete.


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