The site of the new Colonial Elementary School is pictured earlier last month.
Photo by Aila Boyd

By Aila Boyd

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors voted last Tuesday to authorize the reservation of $2.5 million in additional funding for the construction of the new Colonial Elementary School.

The funds will be subject to future appropriation by the Board of Supervisors prior to expenditure.

The additional $2.5 million in funding was recommended by the building committee for the project, which consists of John Alderson and John Williamson, after the base bids for the building construction came in “significantly over pre-bid estimates.”

The lowest bidder was G&H Contracting.

After receiving the bids, the building committee, county staff, and the project architects and engineers worked with G&H Contracting to identify opportunities to reduce the costs “without compromising the functionality or reasonable quality of the project.”

The county stressed that despite the request for additional funding, the county has saved a “significant” amount of money on the project by managing it through the Botetourt County Economic Development Authority and by employing a full-time clerk-of-the-works, who has also been working on other county development projects. The savings to-date that the county reported includes: $300,000 from the reduction in architectural and engineering fees, $600,000 from the reduction in site grading costs, $1,926,300 from negotiated building contract reductions, and $1,000,000 from utility savings. The total amount of the reported savings is $3,826,300.

“They worked exceptionally hard to make that happen,” Gary Larrowe, the county administrator, said of Alderson and Williamson’s efforts to reduce costs.

The recommendations that the building committee presented, which were accepted, included the acceptance of $1,926,300 in savings negotiated with the lowest bidder, the removal of $533,593 in items to be funded from other sources (school capital reserve, capital improvements plan and/or operating budget) from the building contract, the acceptance of bid additives totaling $1,422,300 for four classrooms requested by the school division due to increases in student enrollment, a bus canopy for the student bus loading area, and a full-size gym to accommodate public recreational programs and bleachers, and less than 3 percent contingency for building construction.

It was noted that the recommendations were supported by school division officials.

The reason that was given for the need for four additional classrooms stems from an increase in enrollment at the school because of young families moving to the area. According to the principal of the school, Tammy Riggs, roughly 40 new students have enrolled at the school in the past year.

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Dr. Mac Scothorn, who represents the Valley District, said that he sees the need for a full-size gym.

During their comments before voting, the members of the Board of Supervisors praised the work that Alderson and Williamson have done.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Billy Martin, who represents the Blue Ridge District, thanked them for their work and said, “We’re going to have a good school when we’re finished.”

Dr. Richard Bailey, who represents the Fincastle District, said that the men had worked “extremely hard to get the project as close to on budget” as possible. He said that “the outcome is as good as it can be” in reference to the need for additional funds. He added that he feels that they needed to move on the matter out of fear that if they wait, the price will continue to go up.

Dr. Scothorn said, “I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to the individuals involved.”

Steve Clinton, who represents the Amsterdam District, noted that he hopes the project, specifically the need for additional funding, will serve as a “learning experience” for other potential projects in the future.

It was also noted that grading on the site is nearing completion.