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Forest Hills remains focused on final six construction projects

March 27, 2017

Today (March 27), Forest Hills School District broke ground on the final school project that is part of the 2014 bond issue: Anderson High School.  

In addition to air conditioning, new science labs and upgraded security, the Anderson project will include improved learning spaces, energy-efficiencies, handicap-accessibility, classroom furniture, upgraded technology, improved traffic flow, a new multi-purpose space and more.

“We are excited to begin the district’s final construction project,” shared Scot T. Prebles, superintendent. “Upon completion of Anderson High School, each Forest Hills school will be better equipped to meet the collective and personal needs of students.    
“As we move forward, rising construction costs, an extremely competitive market and unforeseen change orders require extra costs.  While we will not scale back education-related projects, delivering on a commitment made in 2014 at 2017 prices is becoming much more difficult.”  

Since 2014, the district has experienced an approximate 20 percent increase in construction costs.  These increases have negatively impacted the district’s ability to achieve estimated bid pricing for its four latest projects: Maddux Elementary, Turpin High School, Anderson High School and the district’s transportation center.  

“Had the Board not taken advantage of a 50-year low in interest rates and construction costs by bringing the bond issue to voters in 2014, the situation might be unmanageable,” stated Rick Toepfer, district treasurer.

However, the Forest Hills Board of Education remains committed to complete all education-related projects as originally designed.  To do so, it will most likely spend nearly $6.5 million more than originally budgeted, $4.1 million of which will be funded through permanent improvement sources and bond interest earnings. The district will invest more than $2 million of General Fund resources to support the following facility-related educational choices:

•    full implementation of All-Day Kindergarten in 2017-18, including new technology and furniture, rather than the originally planned gradual implementation; 

•    state-of-the-art technology and furniture included in every renovated or new classroom;

•    state-of-the-art technology and flexible furniture in district-wide renovated or new media centers.

“Although challenges exist, what we’ve seen at our completed schools -- Ayer Elementary, Sherwood Elementary and Nagel Middle School-- make it all worthwhile,” stated Prebles.  “We look forward to the completion of Mercer, Summit and Wilson elementaries prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year.  We expect Maddux Elementary to be finalized in the spring of 2018.  The district’s two high schools will undergo significant renovations this summer with completion dates during the 2018-19 school year.

“We are so thankful for the gift our community has given Forest Hills students and the support and understanding extended to us by parents,” continued Prebles.  “We are extremely proud of the way our students and staff have responded to the construction process.  Forest Hills is a great place to be!”