Quakertown, PA – Two elementary schools are expected to undergo renovations totaling $17.7 million, with asbestos removal being an important concern in the plans.
The Quakertown Community School Board is expected today to approve the budget for renovations at Richland Elementary and Haycock Elementary, with the work costing about $12.56 million and $5.15 million respectively. Officials said construction costs turned out to be 55 percent higher than expected.
According to District Business Manager Sylvia Lenz, costs have increased considerably over the past three months, and there is no way to predict whether they’ll stay the same, rise or fall in the coming year. She said both the district and the construction company bidding for the project are taking a risk by committing to prices that may change dramatically due to the volatile market.
Fuel, copper and aluminum are responsible for a large portion of the spike in prices. Workers’ wages have yet to rise, but Lenz said that’s something to consider as well since the district is required by state law to pay the union prevailing wage.
Another reason for the high budget needed for renovations was because Richland Elementary required more asbestos removal than predicted. However, officials said they’re confident that all the asbestos has been located.
Asbestos cleanup at Richland is scheduled to take place during the summer and holiday breaks, when students and staff are away. Haycock, on the other hand, will be closed for a year. Fifth graders from both schools will be attending classes at Strayer Middle School until renovation work is completed.