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New Highlands Junior School to be built despite high bids

By BOBBY HORN JR.
HIGHLANDS—After months of meetings and an expected $2.7 million cost overrun, construction of the new Highlands Junior School is expected to begin next week.

David Fluker, director of facilities and construction for Goose Creek CISD, said that Morganti of Texas construction company is supposed to begin work on June 20. The construction timeline has the school being ready for occupancy in October 2007.
Fluker said that students would use the current building for the start of the 2007 school year, then move into the new building as soon as it is completed.



The new school will be approximately 167,000 square feet and will house 1,024 students. By comparison, Highlands Junior is roughly 140,000 square feet and holds just over 800 students. The current gymnasium is expected to be used for the new campus. There has been some discussion about the future of the auditorium. Board Trustee Weston Cotton, whose district includes Highlands, said the district has spent so much to upgrade the facility it would be a waste to replace it.
The junior high is the largest part of a $220.5 million bond package approved by voters in April 2005. Fluker said the cost overruns were due primarily to inflation. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as other factors world-wide have created shortages in metal, petroleum-based products and especially in wiring components which have driven up costs throughout the construction industry, he added.
The overruns, however, are not expected to have a large impact on Goose Creek’s budget. The district has discovered that another project, which includes a yet-to-be named 14th elementary school and improvements at Bowie Elementary, is expected to come in 2.45 million under budget.
The new elementary will be built in the Eastpoint section of Baytown, near I-10 and Garth Road. Construction is also expected to start next week, with the school coming on-line for the start of the 2007 school year.
Goose Creek is also busy with renovations at Stallworth Stadium.
The construction company Satterfield & Pontikas was hired to replace the press box at the stadium, install an elevator to the press box and make other upgrades that would bring the facility into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Like the Highlands Jr. School project the stadium came in over budget, at $1.5 million, approximtely $600,000 more than planned.