1. That looks pretty nice. I still think that maybe renovation is cheaper but $64 million vs. $120 million is much better. We should have been given a cheaper option for the referendum.

  2. Who’se getting kick backs on 120 million smackers, I ask? And who has failed to do due dilligence on alternative plans, and why? Council is rotten, school board rotten. Someone stands to get something outa this stupid project, and it sure as heck ain’t us!!!

  3. Thank you for printing this. Many people have asked what is the alternative to a $120 Million school. I think this is a good substitute. I know that there are unique building and prices for each location, but there has to be a lot of similarities so it gives me hope that there are options for a lot less.

  4. #fakenews
    The HugueNOT cost only includes construction cost. Not included are architecture fees, no FF&E. Add to that the 20% increase in construction costs per year between 2015 and now, this high school far eclipses the GMHS plan.
    Why are you wanting to soak Falls Church in debt?

  5. Hey Horst, How did you get 20% increase per year? That seems unrealistically high. Also, the construction data comes from VDOE, are you saying it is not good data? If not, why not and where is your details?

    Lastly, I think that we should renovate and save a ton of money but I am probably in the minority.

  6. So in two years a $64 Million project becomes $28 million more? I agree, that is a rip off but I just don’t see that as a true statement but if you are in the building industry, please let me know where to find this data.

  7. I don’t think construction prices are really going up 20% per year, but if true, the deal for the $ 120 million high will not be finalized for about 2 years (new school available to students in 4 years) so that final cost would be $ 172.8 million by your reckoning.

    I’ll take the 8% architecture fees on $ 63 million rather than the $ 172.8 million, thanks. FF&E might be a few million more, but I’d suggest we use the chairs and other stuff from the old GMHS as much as possible to offset those fees.

    And, don’t demo the old school, turn it into affordable housing condos and let them pay for themselves.

  8. As I understand the information, the Huguenot school requirements are more than we need at GMHS. Take out some of the square footage, the stadium and you can probably knock off $10 Million or maybe more. Certainly good information to use as a baseline for a cheaper school.

  9. Can we really compare construction costs in Richmond, VA to costs here in the DC metro area? Cost of living is WAY cheaper in Richmond than it is here. And renovating is less expensive in the short term but but would not free up the land where current school sits for development and increased tax revenue for the city.

    1. I would argue that it costs more to build in Richmond, VA because all their people are commuting from DC (where the bulk of their projects are and I would reckon most of their employees reside) The company has to pay for the crew to live in Richmond during the construction period which adds more cost. Plus all their vendors are in the DC area. Just another way to think about it.

      The bottom line is we don’t know because we don’t have any RFPs out. Kind of silly not to get better cost info.

        1. I am glad you supported your answer with some facts. It’s one thing to have a different opinion but just plain sad if you can’t be part of the discussion with information.

          1. It is too bad “E” can’t offer any substance. must be a troll.

  10. Go to the link for Hess construction in the article above. They do much of their work in DC area. I like the Charles City high school for 1600 students with an indoor swimming pool for 72 million.

    1. Just because they also work in the DC area doesn’t mean they charge the same for as they would in Charles City! Here’s an interesting article about increased school costs in metro areas: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/24/mass-sees-flurry-plans-for-pricey-high-schools/b3oUDxm5w4UccQ3lTq0P5J/story.html. I absolutely agree, and I think the SB and CC would agree, that we want to build a new school, or renovate the existing school, as cheaply as we can.

      1. Thanks for the link Beth. The reasons sited for the huge price tag are many: “The School Building Authority has spent the past several years trying to clamp down on school construction spending following public uproar over the high cost of Newton North, which included an unusual zigzag-shaped building with two theaters, a 25-yard-long pool, two gymnasiums, and pricey construction obstacles, such as granite ledges”

        We should learn from this example. Provide a basic school for the minimum amount possible. There is no reason to have granite ledges and other high end materials.

          1. Beth – thanks but I would submit that the Wilson school is a very expensive design when you look at the details: terracing, outdoor roof space, sunken courtyards, varying ceiling heights, etc. This is not a box but a work of art.


            I think asking questions on how to save money is prudent. Figuring out how to get a basic school without design constructs that will cost a fortune is prudent. At the end of the day, we don’t have the same amount of money as Arlington County and therefore must find smart alternatives. Picking out schools in districts where there is more of a tax base and they have more money to spend is not the answer. Look at places were budget matters and see how they are able to build schools within their means. I think the Richmond and St. Charles examples are very good and we should try to mirror those ,not the designs in Arlington or Massachusetts where they have a very large tax base versus our very small tax base.

          2. Assuming Beth lives in the city, I ask you the following: You probably had some criteria on what house you wanted to buy in Falls Church City. You probably had criteria on number of bathrooms, number of bedrooms, garage, square feet, backyard, fence, etc. Some houses met those criteria and were within your budget so you considered them. Other houses had nicer amenities, were newer, had a larger yard, etc., but you couldn’t justify the extra costs to purchase that house or you couldn’t afford it.

            The same is with the school. We have to look at a more affordable options because TJ still needs to be updated and we need money for infrastructure and other public needs such as police, City Hall services, etc. If we put all our risk and debt into just one school, we put everything else at risk: some things won’t get done, teachers and employees can’t get raises or you have to raise the taxes significantly which ultimately hurts home prices.

  11. My Mistake, I mean to say it was St. Charles High School in Waldorf, MD about 10 miles south of the beltway . That’s the one for 1600 students, new, indoor swimming pool for 72 million.

    Also, they did Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County MD – huge school with 340,000 square feet – for $ 81 million.

  12. I hold incumbents accountable for their words and actions. Has any incumbent, other than maybe Mr. Size who appears to be saying different things….but aside from him has any incumbent running for reelection emphasized building a school based on what the city can comfortably afford? It appears you can build a very good school for far less than $120 million and avoid financial stress and risk.

  13. Dale, that’s what I can’t understand. It appears that they did things backward: let’s think of all the things we want and add them up instead of let’s see what we can afford and bid it out to see what we can get for the amount we have.

    1. Can someone explain and point to a requirements document that the $120 million is based on? Maybe it resides somewhere and I just don’t see it.

  14. Hi Dale, the Perkins Eastman study has some top level detail, but not to the level I would expect for a detailed RFP or line item cost analysis. What is missing, in my opinion, is some basic analysis:
    1. what type of learning can we expect in the next 20 years and will we need as many classrooms to fulfill those requirements (ie. online learning, dual enrollment at community college, Arlington Career Center, etc)
    2. Do we need to offer IB, AP, dual enrollment, classes and other courses that have a small amount of students? This takes up classroom space and is inefficient especially if you have a small school with limited budget. Perhaps we can change course offerings and scheduling to have less space.
    3. Can we minimize the amount of square footage (which adds cost) or make the school more modular if we need it, ie. add a floor a wing, etc.
    4. What are the minimum requirements, what are the optional requirements? It seems like they need everything.

    Check pg 90, pg 123, pg 144, pg 148


    Good luck with the document.

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