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New Auditorium Changing Location at Mehlville High School

Superintendent Eric Knost said architects are looking at moving it from the north end of Mehlville High School to the south end.

With construction obstacles and increasing costs, Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost said he was considering another location for the .

The superintendent told the school board Wednesday that he asked to examine moving the proposed auditorium from the north side of to the south side.

(See attached PDF of the north side proposal.)

Knost cited problems with utility and large sewer lines at the north side location as well as soft soil. Although re-routing the sewer line would increase costs, Knost said the project could still be done within the $6 million cap.

“But if we can get it done in a situation where we don’t have to move utilities and we don’t have that expense, well then maybe ultimately it makes a better auditorium because of it,” Knost said.

The district is through money saved from purchasing Certificates of Participation already built into the budget. Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch said the district would earn $6 million over 7 years. The board placed that amount as a cap for the project.

“I’m adamant that we’re going to do this for $6 million,” Knost said. “We know a lot more about this area because there’s been construction in recent years.”

This is the third proposed location for the auditorium. The , which Knost ruled out because it compromised too much of the original structure.

When board member Elaine Powers shared her concern about the multiple locations, Knost said it was a process of due diligence, finding the best auditorium for $6 million.

“It’s still possible that we could have gotten that done here (at the north location). I don’t want to say that’s not possible, but I like the idea of doing a project without having to worry about those utility issues,” Knost said, adding there were more possible locations.

The superintendent also said he was concerned about the disruption to the football and baseball fields during construction with the north location. Construction is slated to begin this summer with completion in August 2013.

Board member Ron Fedorchak said he supported the $6 million cap, but didn’t want to build a subpar auditorium because of that limit.

“I would encourage you to bring those (extra) costs to us if they’re legitimate and if we have a concrete number that we can evaluate if you need more money to do this thing right," he said. "I don’t want to do a patchwork building and have it fall apart in 10 years."

“We’ve come out to the taxpayers and said we’re going to do this within $6 million,” board member Mark Stoner said. “So to come back and say it’s going to cost $6.1 or $6.2 or $6.3, I’d have a real hard time bringing that to the taxpayers… they’ve seen too much of that in the past.”

Knost said if estimates topped $6 million, he would come back to the board so they could to approve or reject the project.

The superintendent hopes to have new drawings at the May 10 board meeting.

Tom Diehl April 19, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Dr. Knost is making a data-based decision. If he can stay within the budget, avoid extra expenses and provide a better facility, that's a good business decision. If the district has had issues with cost overruns in the past, it is because decisions were made without sufficient information. Many of our schools are located on less than ideal grounds because the initial price was cheap. Subsequent boards were left with the problems of inadequate space, sinkholes, etc. that invariably drives up construction, maintenance and operating costs. Dr. Knost has consistently shown that he can do these types of projects on-time, under budget and without compromising the intent of the board/community.

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