Construction budget soars, “value engineering” begins


Liz Blodgett

The weather may be rainy but construction continues on the stairwell in the new commons. Construction is currently running two weeks behind schedule and builders have had to consider some “value engineering” to keep costs down.

By James Favot, Editor-in-Chief

     As winter break nears, the school administration is talking budget and deadlines concerning the remodel. Principal Andy Van Fleet shared the current plans for what will be done over vacation and what students returning in January can expect to see of the building.

     The staircase in the new commons area has been fully installed, and shortly before students leave for break, the foremost exits to the outside from the science hall will be blocked off in preparation for steelwork to begin in the south wing. Unfortunately, this does mean the only relatively short route to the auto shop and ceramics room will be temporarily unavailable for students.

     When students come back to school after the holidays, they “may see the outside of this new structure starting to be framed in,” Van Fleet said. “You’ll probably see much more steel formation in the back of the building.” The north and south wings are set to be completed by September of next year, while the commons, courtyard, and gyms will be finished for the freshman class of 2024.

     Van Fleet mentioned in a recent staff meeting that all students may be eating in the commons during a single lunch period, suggesting the new area will be large enough to accommodate the entire student body.

     “As long as there’s enough space, I don’t see a problem with it,” senior Jacob Demmin said. “I do think that traffic getting out of the parking lot will be kind of bad because of all the people leaving campus [at once].” The school board has also discussed future usage of the existing cafeteria, which may be converted into a future culinary program or black box area for theater.

     Some students are still working around current inconveniences as a result of the construction. “Due to construction, we can’t use the door that goes between the band room and the outside of the school anymore,” junior Luc Ta said. “If I want to get to jazz band in the morning[…] I have to go through the opening in the band hall lockers.”

     Meanwhile, the district is still looking to find ways to reduce total spending on the renovation. Construction costs unexpectedly rose in the past few years; these price increases were not accounted for in the bond measure. Due to this, building improvements for Tigard High alone have exceeded the originally allotted budget by around $11 million. Administration has worked with ‘value engineers’ to minimize the costs of the remaining construction and prevent any further increase.

     “There are still some value engineering conversations happening [as we’re] realizing construction costs are so high,” Van Fleet said. “We keep catching other things that we’re taking a look at.” Since not much can be drastically altered, the revisions have focused on specific details such as the grade of steel being used in the framework. However, Van Fleet says, the current conversations are based more around the project timeline over December and January.

     These budget constraints have created difficulties in adding anything extra to what has already been planned. The finished remodel will see one extra classroom added to the building but a net increase of overall space. Some additional classroom funds, like those of James MacDonald’s auto shop, will have to come out of Measure 98 and other state grants instead of the bond.

     Aside from the budget conversation, virtually all construction planning has been finalized at this point. Now, all staff and students will have to do is wait until it’s all said and done.