HUDSON — A roughly $25 million renovation and construction project to revamp Alvirne High School’s career and technical education wing is facing a 10-month delay and an additional $1 million in unexpected costs.
Hudson Superintendent Larry Russell said the town approved an $8.2 million bond for the town to fund the project in 2018, basing that number on a letter of recommendation from the Department of Education that led them to expect about $17 million from the state.
But as the state budget is written, Hudson will get about $14.5 million from this capital budget, with the remainder expected in the following biennium.
“It’s disappointing,” Russell said.
He said the Rochester School District’s capital funding for a renovation project was affected briefly, but their money was restored.
Russell said the Hudson School District had less luck lobbying the House.
“We went up and begged for it; they wouldn’t do it,” Russell said.
He’s since met with some Senate leaders, he said, to try to restore the money in that chamber.
Hudson Rep. Lynne Ober said part of the problem is that about $2.7 million of the town bond for this project is earmarked for non-CTE projects. The state guarantees 50 percent of the cost for a CTE renovation, and up to 75 percent. Ober said the town will be getting the 75 percent, just broken up into two installments because Rochester’s project took priority.
“We always follow Rochester in this renovation cycle,” Ober said.
She said the state risks having its bond rating lowered if it overspends its capital budget.
It’s been 25 years since the Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center has been renovated, Russell said. Alvirne Principal Steven Beals said a total of 47,000 square feet is getting overhauled, including 38,000 square feet of new construction.
About 4,000 square feet of classrooms and another roughly 4,000 square feet of greenhouses and planting rooms will be demolished, where a new parking area will be laid out.
Ober said she told Beals she would have supported a bond in 2019 to pay for the project to start later on, when it would be more likely to get full state funding, but didn’t support the decision to ask the voters to approve the bond last year.
“The real issue is that Steve Beals went ahead with the vote when there was zero funding,” Ober said.
If the schools are unsuccessful in securing the extra $2.5 million needed, Beals said renovations for about 14,000 square feet of first-floor classes on the east side of the building, plus another 3,000 square feet of office space will be delayed until 2021.
What was originally planned to be a 26-month construction schedule will be paused after about 15 months and restart after a 10-month hiatus, during which the district will still be on the hook for the cost to keep construction equipment on site.
Demolition and construction will begin as planned in mid-June. The project also involves a $60,000 wetlands mitigation.
Russell said the delay will result in additional costs estimated to be $800,000 to $1 million.
So far, the district has already paid $1.5 million for architectural and planning work, according to Russell.
The revamp will involve moving around expanding existing programs and placing the school’s Air Force JROTC inside the CTE center. Beals said there will be a new media studio for video production and editing, adding automated manufacturing to engineering and adding metal fabrication to the welding program. Alvirne is also expanding computer programming, health science and technology, and marrying the culinary arts program with the finance and marketing programs so they can work in tandem.
The project’s general contractor is Harvey Construction in Bedford, and its architect firm is Lavallee Brensinger in Manchester.