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Oltman school design grows; project within budget

School District 833

The new Oltman Middle School will be larger than originally proposed but the project still is within its budget, according to District 833 administrators.

As administrators met with teachers and staff recently to discuss the school, they altered some of the design and expanded the building from 188,000 square feet to 192,000 square feet.

That's the result of "design creep," said interim facilities director Mike Vogel, describing a common practice where a building size grows as users help fine-tune the design prior to construction.

Representatives from each Oltman department offered input on the plan. Architects will incorporate that information into the detailed design specifications, Vogel told District 833 School Board members Thursday, Dec. 15.

Vogel said school building design has changed in recent decades, and now there is greater focus on creating flexible learning spaces. Those occupy more square footage, which means less space in other building areas.

"It's a little bit of (an) adjustment for some of the staff," he said.

South Washington County Schools built a $1.5 million contingency for that type of design-stage building expansion into the project's $71.85 million budget. The 4,000-square-foot expansion used about half of the contingency funds.

Pre-construction work continues at the school site along 65th Street and east of Geneva Avenue. Wet fall weather and the recent spell of snow and cold weather slowed progress, but grading work remains on schedule, Vogel said.

Vogel said the project is about $145,000 under budget. The final bid package for school construction will be awarded in late March.

"We're pretty comfortable that we're going to be able to provide the building within the budget that was originally designed," he said.

The new Oltman is scheduled to open in fall 2018. The existing Oltman building in St. Paul Park will then be home to the district's Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion School.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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