Phoenixville >> Officials in the Phoenixville Area School District say the budget for the newest school building could be much less than first thought, but it will still cost more than $60 million.

During Thursday night’s school board meeting, Stan Johnson, executive director of operations, said due to favorable bids received for the proposed Early Learning Center and Elementary School, the building’s budget could be almost $19 million cheaper than originally estimated. The budget was originally estimated at approximately $81.1 million. The school will break ground this fall for a spring 2017 construction completion date.

“Given the very positive bids that we’ve received, we’ve now been able to fine tune the budget for the project,” Johnson said.

If everything goes in the district’s favor, the cost of the project will be approximately $62.4 million. That’s a reduction of almost $19 million. In a worse case scenario, the building would cost roughly $71.8 million. Johnson said he expects the final number to hover somewhere around $66.7 million. The board will go into more detail on the budget at the Sept. 3 meeting.

Johnson later said there is still some information the administration is waiting to receive before a final total can be determined.

“If the district is successful in receiving a mobile grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which would pay for some of the highway work out on Pothouse Road, that would then be money that would not have to be paid by local taxpayers,” he said, for example.

Another example would be the cost of the ground, formerly known as the Meadow Brook Golf Club, which is being purchased through eminent domain.

“We still don’t know what we have to pay them,” Johnson said. “Right now it’s with the courts. We don’t know what the court’s going to rule.”

Board member Joshua Gould clarified that the new budget estimates figures are based on the assumption that the school board will accept all of the administration’s recommendations regarding alternative additions. Those are projects the district could choose to do, but aren’t required in order for the school to open, such as the installation of turf fields, or whether the district will choose to install a geothermal heating system at the school.

Overall, Johnson said officials are pleased with the results of the bidding process.

“It makes us feel very good,” he said. “We got some very, very competitive bids from the contractors and we’re very, very pleased with that.”

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