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Valley News Dispatch

Acmetonia Elementary construction within budget despite concerns

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 1:40 p.m.
Acmetonia Primary School in the Allegheny Valley School District on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Acmetonia Primary School in the Allegheny Valley School District on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.

Allegheny Valley School Board members are concerned a design change in the Acmetonia Primary Center expansion has cut into the project's contingency fund.

Board member Stephen Puskar raised the issue with Kevin Renwick of the Foreman Group, architects for the project.

Puskar asked about the design change, in which caissons or pilings were driven into the ground and the structure is built upon them for support. He said the board was surprised to learn that had happened and was concerned about the cost because it can be expensive.

“That came with a price tag and whatever that price was, it ate into our budget where we allowed a certain amount as a buffer,” Puskar said.

Puskar was referring to the project's contingency fund, a normal element of construction budgets designed to cover unexpected costs.

“We weren't aware that the design was going to be with caissons,” he said.

Board member Larry Pollick said, “We had known that they were in the budget, but we didn't know they had been used.”

Renwick said core borings of the site revealed that the soil was of poor quality, likely from fill on the hillside where Acmetonia is perched when it was excavated for previous construction.

He said the core borings and caissons were indeed part of the $12.6 million project's budget and believes the architect for the project had considered that in the budget information he gave to the board.

Renwick said he would check on that.

“I'd like to get a complete rundown on those figures,” Renwick said.

Offhand, he said the district's contingency fund is about $400,000.

“We are not close to being in any kind of trouble with that,” Renwick said. “We feel that we're out of the ground now, and there shouldn't be any more big surprises.”

Acmetonia has housed kindergarten through third-grade students but is being expanded to accommodate fourth- through sixth-grade students from Colfax Elementary, which is being closed, for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

The new wing at Acmetonia includes 16 classrooms and rooms for special education, reading and math.

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.

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