Consolidation of the Delaware Area Career Center is now going to cost more than $10 million more than was originally anticipated.
The consolidated campus will also need to be larger than originally thought, members of the DACC board of education learned during a work session Wednesday evening. Officials project the school will need roughly 224,988 square feet, instead of the previously determined 184,000 square feet.
The president of the DACC board, Julie Wagner-Feasel, said she was “freaked out” because she told voters one number and now the number is higher.
Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman said earlier this year that the consolidation would cost $35 million and would come from the DACC’s general fund and permanent improvement fund, not an additional levy.
However, officials from Elford Construction, the building contractor, told the board Wednesday that the estimated cost of the consolidated campus will be $43,962,440, with a final total of $46,939,524 to account for additional construction projects and contingencies.
They added that these numbers would likely go down because the estimates assume all new equipment and furniture, and do not factor in equipment that will be brought to the combined campus.
DACC Treasurer Christopher Bell noted that the school has saved up $37 million to pay for the consolidation through fiscal discipline and good business practices, and told the board it would be possible to get a loan for the additional cost of the consolidation. The board did not discuss any type of tax issue for the additional construction cost.
Representatives from architect SHP Leading Design and Elford presented research they had conducted about the consolidation.
A study conducted by the DACC when the consolidation was first considered determined the new facility would need 184,000 square feet to accommodate students from both current campuses. Freeman said the floor space accounted for the total area of both the North Campus and the South Campus but did not account for any growth or future programming space.
However, when architects from SHP were interviewing staff members at both campuses, they learned that many of the current labs are too small to accommodate more students.
Freeman gave the example of the current dental lab, where students can practice various dental procedures but cannot do other types of classwork because there is no room for tables or chairs.
Officials from SHP and Elford stressed Wednesday that this was “just the beginning” of the project and none of the figures present were exact yet. As the project progresses, more detailed information will be available.
Harry Pape, another member of the board, argued that if the DACC is capable of making the new facility better for students and can afford it, it should seize the opportunity.
A representative from SHP said the architect needs to know how much money is available so that it can move forward and start to design schematics and the floor plan. The representative added that if the company begins moving forward with a specific cost in mind, it would work hard to cut or change the plan to meet that goal. The board did not provide an answer Wednesday.
Freeman said the board will draft a resolution on the new plan and discuss it at its Dec. 17 board meeting. The meeting will be in the board room at South Campus at 7 p.m.
The Wednesday meeting was a work session and no action was taken on the issue by the board.
DACC’s plan is to consolidate operations at the South Campus on Columbus Pike and to close and sell the North Campus.
Voters in November approved a 10-year renewal of an operating tax levy for DACC.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.