Franklin school board sticks to plan on new high school construction

This is an artist's rendition of what the new Franklin High School could look like. CONTRIBUTED/FRANKLIN CITY SCHOOLS

Combined ShapeCaption
This is an artist's rendition of what the new Franklin High School could look like. CONTRIBUTED/FRANKLIN CITY SCHOOLS

Rising costs led to consideration of five “alternate” features to save money

After an update from its school construction contractor and architectural firm, the Franklin Board of Education did not make any changes in its first round of adjustments for the new Franklin High School.

The school board reviewed five alternates to the project that needed approval this week and opted to keep the hardscape for the courtyard, operable partitions for three classrooms; a natural gas generator; and a walkway canopy on the west side of the building, something that was requested at community forums.

The cost of these alternatives was listed at $690,000 for the project as the board considered scaling back or going with other options for the alternatives.

ExploreBuilding material delays, rising costs causing issues for local school building projects

Among the proposals to save on costs included putting in grass in the courtyard, which would have saved $271,600, or going with a diesel generator. Board members opted to go with the natural gas generator and paved courtyard, both of which would have less ongoing maintenance costs.

Backlogs in building materials and rising construction costs are causing havoc for multiple area school districts constructing new buildings that were approved by taxpayers.

The projected completion of the new Franklin High School and renovation of the current high school into the new junior high school will be delayed by a few months to November 2023 or later due to a backlog in building supplies. In addition, there is a backlog for steel that won’t be available until November 2022, and costs for roofing and other materials are rising.

Excavation work has already started for a drainage detention pond near the Hampton Bennett building for the new high school project, according to city officials.

Board member Bob Knipper said the district should build the high school the way the board and community wants it.

“We made a promise to stretch our tax dollars,” Knipper said. “We only get one chance to do this right.”

The board was told that the site work is nearly completed and that the foundations for the new building will begin in June. Another review of alternates to the contract will be reviewed in late August.

The board and Conger Construction Group have agreed on a guaranteed maximum price of nearly $36.5 million to construct the high school facility, based on the amendment approved this week.

Superintendent Michael Sander said the board will look for other items to adjust as well as looking at the comparison in prices. He said there is more than $2.2 million in various options in the project.

“The board desires to stay true and budget true to as much of the original concept as possible,” Sander said.

Franklin voters approved a bond issue for new school facilities in November 2020 by a margin of 60% to 40% to provide construction funding for four new buildings and the complete renovation of a fifth, which will convert the current high school on East Fourth Street into a new junior high school.

Because Franklin is participating in the Expedited Local Partnership Program, the state will pay 57% of the cost of the four new classroom buildings. Voters approved the bond issue for the local share. The state funding for the new Gerke, Schenck and Hunter elementary buildings is expected to be released in 2027, according to district and state officials.

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