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E. Aurora High School expansion to cost more than expected

East AurorHigh School will be undergoing renovations this summer accommodate 400 additional students. The wrestling arewill be converted classrooms. Kalyn

East Aurora High School will be undergoing renovations this summer to accommodate 400 additional students. The wrestling area will be converted to classrooms. Kalyn Belsha ~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 12, 2013 11:23AM

AURORA — The construction that will add up to a dozen new classrooms at East Aurora High School this summer will cost $367,500 more than architects’ original high-end estimate, or about a 15 percent increase.

The East Aurora School Board approved a $2.77 million contract at a special board meeting Tuesday night with the St. Charles-based Schramm Construction. That figure was up from the $1.7 million to $2.4 million range the district heard when the expansion was first approved in June.

Board member Ray Hull voted no on the contract and Kirsten Strand abstained. Board member Stella Gonzalez was not in attendance at the meeting.

Construction at East High begins Thursday.

Schramm Construction was the lowest bidder of the four companies that submitted proposals, which went as high as $3.29 million, according to district bid documents.

The company, which has worked with the district before, will help create up to 12 additional classrooms out of existing space to accommodate about 400 additional East High students, bringing the building’s total up to about 3,700.

The weight room and wrestling area will become classrooms and the swimming pool will be filled in to become the new wrestling, weightlifting and fitness area.

The plan also includes a cafeteria expansion and the addition of office space for school counselors.

Architects for the district have said the project is costing the district more than it would under regular circumstances because of the condensed construction schedule.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hull asked a representative from architectural firm Cordogan, Clark & Associates to quantify that added cost.

“There is a premium, but I can’t tell you what it is,” said Craig Welter, explaining it would have taken too long to figure that out and still get the construction bid done on time.

Welter said the chosen construction company planned to finish the job in three weeks, likely by working two shifts a day. The work would normally be done in 12 weeks or more, Welter added.

The district has said it couldn’t plan for the expansion sooner because it did not receive enrollment projections for the next school year until March.

Strand said she was concerned the contract had “many missing pieces.”

Board member Mary Lou Peryea questioned Welter about a 2011 document that stated the architectural firm was to keep records of “unforeseen issues” at buildings in the district. Peryea asked if at the time there were plans for an expansion at East High.

Welter said an expansion plan was not in place two years ago and that the firm was responsible for flagging maintenance, mechanical and engineering issues at buildings, not planning for an expansion.

Others also have expressed concern about the expansion planning.

Ken Darby, of Aurora, asked board members if they’d considered all their options before deciding to fill in the pool.

“You seemed to have jammed this through,” he said during the meeting’s public comments section.

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