Trustees for the Galt Joint Union High School District have closed the financial books on a years-long project, but not before shelling out an additional $168,612 for construction work already performed.
“Those kind of things happen,” Chief Finance Officer Audrey Kilpatrick said recently regarding the cost overruns.
The $3.2 million so-called “Building 700” at Liberty Ranch High School landed on a no-funding list when the state began to encounter financial shortfalls four years ago.
Construction on the building started in 2008 when Liberty Ranch was originally being built, but it had to be delayed when funds were frozen by the state in December of that year.
Up until April, minor work was still being done on Building 700 although students moved in at the start of 2011. Building 700 was designed to be an agriculture and industrial education building.
The builder, Stockton-based F & H Construction, was paid for two projects it worked on simultaneously, Building 700 and Liberty Ranch construction in general.
Trustee Angela DaPrato has requested of Kilpatrick a breakdown of contract costs for each project.
At a school board meeting last month, she and her peers unanimously approved the 15 pages of final change orders for the project which essentially increased the cost of F & H’s original contract. Among the additional fees was work required by the fire marshal, according to Kilpatrick.
Those costs were not part of the original contract. They included thousands of dollars to paint curbs, build at least one concrete path and rent equipment needed to install a scoreboard on the sports field.
Although they were funded by different budgets, the extra expenses came at the same time the district was working to balance its 2012-13 budget using less state money. For another consecutive year, there will be employee layoffs and other reductions.
Former board trustee Pat Maple believes the district spent closer to $6 million on the bricks and mortar plus incidentals on Building 700.
“It was silly to spend that kind of money on one building and one program. Why put all your money into one basket?” he said. “When I was on the board, I voted to put the building in the front (of the campus) and they put it in the back.”
Although some have publicly questioned the project’s finances, Kilpatrick said there has been constant monitoring of the 700 building as the district was required to submit quarterly reports to the state allocation board.
In December 2008, the state froze the $2.1 million Galt was receiving in matching funds for the project. In all, 185 school construction projects across the state were affected. The funding was not released until two years ago this month, and the school board voted to repay a bridge loan that had funded for the building’s completion.
About $10,000 remains in the project’s account, but a portion will have to be returned to the state since there was a 50-50 match agreement, according to Kilpatrick.
“We are not aware of any projects not yet completed,” she said in assuring trustees the month’s change orders approved June 12 were the final expenses they would need to approve.
“We had a very tight budget in the (700 building) project, and we met that.”