Story Tools

Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

AME's new look
The newest rendering of the proposed front of Anna Maria Elementary School.
Team meeting
Chris Cole of Educational Design Associates explains how the construction team was able to reduce fill on the school site by reducing parking, adjusting the bus loop and moving the playground. Islander Photos: Diana Bogan

Good news AME: Construction meets budget goals

Anna Maria Elementary School's construction team received welcome news at its Thursday meeting - the project meets its $5.6 million budget.

Team members met with Manatee County Superintendent Roger Dearing to present the final cutbacks and construction designs Nov. 19, prior to the weekly team meeting. According to Manatee County School District project team coordinator Larry Roemer, Dearing endorsed the project.

A full presentation of the final design document plans and cost reduction process will be made at a public meeting in the school auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Over the summer months, costs of the construction project skyrocketed nearly $1.6 million over the approved budget. Several culprits thought to be causing the over-run included the state-of-the-art auditorium and its roof structure, immense amounts of site fill and the waterproofing method proposed for the building's exterior.

Team members tasked with reducing the construction costs said they considered hundreds of items and were happy to report that the building and its landscaping will maintain the look presented to the public at previous meetings.

The square footage of the auditorium was not reduced and still features a covered entrance with a handicap ramp, a lobby with two restrooms, and a handicap ramp for the stage, with backstage access to the music and art classrooms.

The main hall of the auditorium will have a vaulted ceiling and pitched roof to accommodate good sound quality, but the adjoining art and music rooms will have a low sloped roof. Architect Tom Cardinal said reducing the pitched roof was a big saving for the project and enhanced the visual appeal of the roof line.

The school will have a standing-seam metal roof, and despite discussion to reduce the overhang to two feet, the final documents show a four-foot overhang.

The school will also keep its Bahama shutters as part of the "promise" made by Dearing at a public meeting in August. However some minor adjustments have been made.

The shutters will be fixed and only cover the top half of the windows on the front of the building. The Bahama shutters have been removed from the back of the building at the prompting of faculty. Cardinal said some teachers believed the shutters would impede their view of the bay and they preferred to leave them out of the design.

According to Roemer, other adjustments include reducing the width of the breezeway to 10 feet between the cafeteria and art/music rooms, reducing the fill and removing the tree wells, reconfiguring the playground to save fill and trees, using an alternative waterproofing system and eliminating wet retention areas.

Chris Cole of Educational Design Associates said the team was able to adjust the widths of the bus and parent driveways to eliminate retaining walls and reduce fill. Parking spaces have also been adjusted, but Cole said he didn't have the final count on the number of spaces that will remain.

Cole also noted that the existing playground site for the upper elementary grades will not be relocated as previously planned. Making the temporary site the permanent site reduces the amount of fill needed and eliminates the need to relocate some cabbage palms, he said.

At the public meeting Dec. 9, the team will present information on the new playground design, the final landscape plans, which still include an outdoor amphitheater, color-scheme recommendations, and an overview of the project revisions.

Cole said the entire cost-reduction process has been a series of trade-offs, but the team tried to put together a package that met community expectations. "There has really been a positive commitment from all sides of the table to keep the essence of the project and provide quality," he said.

School board member Harry Kinnan said the project has the complete confidence of Dearing, who he believes has given a lot of time and energy to this project.

Roemer announced that they received a permit from the Southwest Florida Water Management District last week. The estimated timeline puts the plans before the school board for approval in January and nearing the startup of construction in late February.

Roemer indicated that the initial construction work would be noisy and the team would work around the needs of the students and faculty.