PHOENIXVILLE >> Taxpayers in the Phoenixville Area School District may face a $500,000 bill for flooring in the hallways at the new Early Learning Center, even though a much cheaper alternative is available.

The administration recommends approving a $509,000 ad alternate to the school’s budget to install terrazzo flooring in lieu of vinyl tile in the hallways of the new school. The board is expected to vote at Thursday night’s meeting.

Terrazzo is 103.6 percent more expensive than vinyl tile, which costs approximately $250,000, but lasts longer, looks nicer and is easier to maintain, according to the Stan Johnson, executive director of operations.

“You’re paying a higher premium up front but it lasts two and a half times as long,” Johnson said Tuesday.

The Early Learning Center and Elementary School project is estimated to cost $71 million and is on schedule and would remain on budget to open in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year, if the measure were approved.

Terrazzo flooring typically lasts about 50 years, while vinyl only lasts about 20 years, he said. In addition, the material has been installed in each of the new school facilities the district has built, including the middle school and Schuylkill Elementary. The high school uses vinyl tile.

The district intentionally waited to recommend the terrazzo flooring until construction was past the more difficult phase of building that could lead to expensive change orders. The vinyl tile was considered “a safety valve for us to save $250,000,” Johnson said. Now that the rough road has begun to smoothen, the district is asking for the change.

“We’re not going to run into any major surprises,” he said, adding there’s a slight lag between building and when the district receives a bill. Spending for the project is about 30 percent complete, while construction itself is farther ahead at somewhere between 35 percent and 40 percent complete.

“We’re right on target with the budget,” Johnson said. “We feel comfortable recommending terrazzo. Our budget includes terrazzo. Without terrazzo we would be below budget, which is a good thing but it balances out everything better to have terrazzo in.”

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