School board to vote on LHS gym Thursday

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Troup County School Board is expected to vote Thursday on the construction budget for the athletic facility at LaGrange High School.

During Monday night’s work session, the board discussed a guaranteed maximum price of $15.5 million for construction of the new facility, which is higher than the Troup facility and well above the $13.4 million construction budget approved last year. General contractor Ra-Lin, which had representatives at the meeting, provided the price.

The $15.5 million price tag includes $1,235,000 in capital outlay funding the system will receive from the state, a contingency amount of $595,392 and $750,000 for fixtures and equipment. Debate on Monday centered around the additional $750,000, which includes costs for cameras, TVs, projectors, a security system and weight room equipment, among other expenses.

“It’s no secret. It just keeps ticking up, up and up,” said Board Member Brandon Brooks. “I’m going to call it like it is from the people I talk to. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, knowing that we are voting on things continually, and they keep bumping up, and we are now at a $15.5 [million] price point.”

The board has not officially voted on a guaranteed maximum price for the LaGrange facility but did approve a construction budget of $13.4 million in October 2017. Since then, the price of materials has gone up, partly due to tariffs on steel.

The gyms were originally approved in Education SPLOST 5 with $18 million total originally estimated to build both facilities, but the board found out over time that those estimates were far from accurate. Now the two gyms are projected to cost nearly $30 million total.

The board approved a guaranteed maximum price point of $14.1 million for the Troup High facility in August.

“The other [numbers] were the best guesses we had at the time. When we put those numbers together, it was almost three years ago when we started the process,” said Assistant Superintendent John Radcliffe.

“We have had significant cost increases as we go. One of the things I was pleased at with this number, was I expected this number to be much larger. I can tell you that our architect was pleased with these numbers.”

Radcliffe said Ra-Lin has done a good job of pulling in sub-contractors to keep the price down.

Ra-Lin representatives said once the project budget is approved, they could start quickly thereafter. Ra-Lin asked to start construction at the end of February or beginning of March, when the weather warms up.

“Overwhelmingly the community is in favor of it,” said Board Member Joe Franklin.

“But we’ve got to look at bonding, look at how we do it and do it in a timely manner and not wait around until it’s more expensive.”

The board continues to monitor the cost of the facility to determine if they need to bond.

“We have not decided we need to bond yet,” said Interim Superintendent Roy Nichols. “We are borrowing money from the general fund and general fund money just started coming in from school taxes. We may have to look at bonding as we go a little further into the spring.”

The LaGrange athletic facility is expected to take around 14 months to construct, according to Ra-Lin representatives. The Troup High gymnasium is expected to be completed around December 2019 or January 2020. The original date for the Troup gym was October, but Radcliffe said 37 days have been lost to rain on the Troup facility.