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CSF school board hears final accounting of project

BY SHARON BARDONNER - sbardonner@ftimes.com

Mike Witteveen, president and chief operating officer of Tecton Construction Management, attended the Community Schools of Frankfort school board meeting Tuesday to provide the board members with a final overview of the project and an accounting of some of its major aspects.

But Witteveen’s presentation wasn’t a dry recitation of numbers for the individuals who have been at the helm of the $30 million renovation project to rehabilitate the 50-year-old, largely neglected Frankfort High School into a state-of-the-art educational facility.

Witteveen recited the approximate $7 million in savings from what was originally estimated for the project. About $6.5 million of those dollars were preserved through the bidding process, with the remaining half million in savings happening along the way.

Given Indiana’s statutes regarding referendum spending, the $30 million amount approved by the public had to be spent in its entirety; the savings could not be taken off of the taxation amount.

Consequently, the board was able to go much lower on its list of prioritzed projects, adding upgrades even during the last construction phase to deplete the fund completely.

Most of the dollars, as planned, were for major mechanical and structural improvements, including a new HVAC system, new electrical to accomodate FHS’s 20th century technology, plumbing, windows, wall insulation and roofing.

“Those projects are not very sexy,” said Witteveen. “They’re all the tough things.”

The construction management expert showed the board “before” photos of the decades-old boiler room and the “after” photos of the new infrastructure installed. He also referred to the financial management tool used during the project - 37 pages representing 37 times “we tracked every penny spent on the project,” he said.

The project required 47 bid packages along with an expensive, undesirable surprise – $500,000 in costs to remove asbestos from the building.

Another number shared by Witteveen was 16.5, which was how many feet the column of papers printed during the course of the project would stand.

The renovation also involved hauling away 179 roll-offs – weighing 1,000,770 pounds – full of debris generated as old walls, windows, roofs, etc., were removed to be replaced by new ones.

“The toughest part was how much of the project was front-end loaded when we had to get 100,000 square feet of work done in a 10-week time frame,” he noted.

To give the board and attendees an idea of how much work was compressed into that time frame, Witteveen looked around as he stood in the board room in the CSF Administration and Education building.

“This board room is about 40 by 40, or 1,600 square feet,” Witteveen estimated. “Consider everything that comprises this room - all of the flooring, the ceiling, the lighting, walls, trim, windows and painting - and then imagine having to do that entire room every six hours.

“This was not a typical job by any stretch of the imagination.”