Columbia Public Schools reaches maximum budget for Douglass High

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools has reached the maximum budget allowed for the Douglass High School renovations and will use leftover funds from a previous project to cover additional costs.

"We are about $40,000 over the $6.1 million budget," said CPS Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley.

CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said the same has happened with the contingency budget.

"The contingency budget for Douglass was $360,000," she said. "We have reached that amount."

Baumstark said contingency funds are used "to safeguard against additional issues we might encounter during the construction process."

"We've had some unforeseen things as we begin to rework the structure, pull down drywall and put in new fixtures," Baumstark said.

One of the unforeseen issues was structural beams found in the high school's stage that cost more to replace than originally anticipated.

Baumstark and Quinley both said the budget overage is not a concern, since CPS came in under budget during a past project.

"The Center for Early Learning North was completed in January and had funds left in contingency that can be rolled over to help with some of the Douglass costs," Baumstark said.

She said it doesn't surprise her the budget was reached, since Douglass High School has not been extensively renovated in many years.

"As you can imagine, when you are renovating a building that is about 100 years old, there's going to be some things that come up through that renovation process," she said.

Quinley said CPS does not often exceed a project budget.

"That is unusual for us, however, in this case, it's not terribly surprising because of the age of the building," she said.

There were five Douglass High School renovation change orders at the CPS Board Meeting Monday. They included adding a floor sink, replacing exterior lights and replacing cracked bricks.

Baumstark said this will not delay the renovation schedule for the school.

"We are planning to open as scheduled in the fall of next school year," she said.