Part 4: BISD $81.2M Bond • Feb 2016 •The 100 Building (Theater and ESL)

Note: This part does not begin with the key takeaways from Parts 1-3 because the list is getting too lengthy. It doesn’t take a great deal of time to read the previous posts.


The Robinson Co. cost estimate to replace the BISD’s 100 building:

Robinson Co. BISD Bldg 100 Cost Est. Nov 2015

The fundamental question: Is $30M a ballpark reasonable or excessive amount
to remove and replace BISD Building 100?

It should not be lost on readers this November 2015 cost estimate sharply escalates the project costs in 2017 (8.7%) and 2018 (13%) … clearly subjective and likely highly unrealistic inflated numbers to give an illusion that costs are going to climb very rapidly if construction is delayed, meaning if the bond is not approved.


NOTE: This is another cost detail analysis that those not interested in cost calculation details can skip by going to the BOTTOM LINE at the end of this post.


Let’s begin with the most discussed building element, the Large Group Instruction (LGI) auditorium, better known as the theater. BISD considered a number of different theater sizes and configurations and settled on the largest. Given the new theater should last 50+ years, and what is being done in other school districts, I view a 600 seat capacity and full stage performance LGI/theater as a reasonable visionary decision.

The 2016 National Building Cost Manual referenced in Part 3 (and now available at the Bainbridge Island Library) pencils out the highest quality secondary school construction costs for the proposed 22,260 SF masonry construction secondary school LGI/theater with a 35 foot average height after Seattle area and island construction (+11 and +5% respectively) price index multipliers are applied at $316.39 SF.

That totals $7.05M.

The instructional rooms of the remainder of the building (includes music, chorus, art, career and technical education, etc) are planned at 26,185 SF. Construction costs should be in the range of $302 SF (same local cost index multipliers) for an with an overall average building height of 20 feet.

That totals $7.91M.

Add to those basic construction costs $1M for general site work, .$5M to remove the existing building, and $.15M for a fire suppression system.

Robinson Co. adds $2 million for theater electronics. That seems high, but who really knows what they have planned or what it might cost. It will certainly be highest quality, state of the art. So let’s just accept that $2M estimate.

And since construction will take place 2017-2018, there might (or might not be since the economy is growing at a very slow pace) ) an inflation factor. I believe 4% is reasonable given current economic conditions.

That totals $19.27M for 2017-2018 actual construction costs that includes $2M for theater electronics.

Now for the HIGHLY, HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL soft costs.

Robison Co. estimate adds 48.2%, or $9.75M for soft costs.

This has a multitude of problems and complications.

First, the National Building Cost Manual includes (among other costs) usual architect and consultant fees, construction testing fees, usual permit fees, and contractor profits.

Robinson Co. adds many of those common and usual fees to their soft cost multiplier, not their construction cost calculation.

The current BISD pie charts summary page for Wilkes says the soft cost for Wilkes was 28%. Note: The same pie chart also labels soft costs at 38%, but that includes the still unspent $5.5M 2009 Wilkes and other capital projects bond money.

As an important side note, the original 2009 bond cost projections by Robinson Co. estimated the Wilkes soft costs at a completely outrageous 59%!! Voters didn’t take notice because it’s one of the in-the-weeds details … millions of dollars that just get put in a bond measure with little explanation.

Why is this important? After the school is constructed, the school district can claim the construction cost of the new school was lower or equal to other schools. That’s exactly what they did with Wilkes … they just don’t talk about the soft costs because that’s not construction costs by BISD and Robinson Co.’s definition of construction costs. And in Washington State, there are no standards for school costs and how they are to be measured, so school comparisons are difficult.

So why are Blakely soft costs 72% higher than the BISD’s claimed Wilkes soft costs? That’s many millions of totally unexplained dollars, and the BISD and the School Board know the public isn’t going to drill down into the numbers to question anything labeled soft costs because the public simply doesn’t understand soft costs.

So sorting all this out is beyond the scope of this blog or the attention span of the public. It should have been done by the BISD finance group, but if it was, it isn’t easily accessible public information. My guess it was just never done.


Construction (and usual costs) and theater electronics (discussed above):   $19.27M
Taxes:                                                                                                                                              $  1.68M
Heating and Cooling (HVAC) (additive to National Building Cost):                       $  1.50M
Building Set Up, Furnishings, New tech equipment :                                                  $ 1.60M
Staff adjustments, relocations, etc.:                                                                                  $ 1.25M
Commissioning, Utility Assessments, Legal and Risk:                                                $ 0.50M

             Bldg 100 Cost Estimate:               $25.8 Million

Conclusion: The BISD bond request for Building 100 at $30 million is $4.2 million  on the high side.

Post 5: Final BISD bond comments and the pros/cons of the bond issue.