$5 million added to WHS costs

A new Oconee high school first projected to cost $50 million, at the most, will now cost $55 million. School trustees last night received a maximum guaranteed price during a work session, but no vote was taken. Trustees were told that $3.2 million of the increased costs above the original estimate are traced to academic and code requirements. After one trustee questioned the price tag for spring time sports facilities, Chairman Andy Inabinet said the board has the option to approve a price below $55 million. Until the trustees act, the graded highway 11 property at Picket Post will remain clear, but the contractor manager said the builders will be ready. Jack Weber of the Trehel Corporation said the construction management company at risk has made, in some areas, successful efforts to involve Oconee County workers as sub-contractors. For $55 million, or whatever price is finally set, trustees were told they can expect the new 260 thousand square foot Walhalla High School, with a core student capacity of 1,300, will last 50 to 60 years. The campus is being configured to include a football stadium in time for the 2015 opening, instead of a stadium being added at a later date. Gloria Moore, district finance director, said no debt service requiring a tax increase will be encumbered. Moore said the costs are to fall within the district’s borrowing capacity and the debt is to be paid within eight years, after the last borrowing in 2016. Dr. Mike Lucas, district superintendent, said the aggressive pay-off schedule will prove best for the district.