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Published in Print: March 31, 2004, as Adding It Up: Three School Projects

Adding It Up: Three School Projects

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Former Belmont Learning Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Enrollment (projected): 2,600
Construction starting date: 1997 (Work on the project has been on hold since 1999.)
Scheduled opening: September 2007
Projected cost: $60 million
Final cost (revised projections): $265 million

Referred to once by a state lawmaker as a "15-year disaster," the planned Belmont Learning Center promised to be a much-needed neighborhood school west of downtown Los Angeles. The project was stopped, however, because of potential environmental hazards from an abandoned oil field on the 35-acre site. An effort to restart construction was halted in December 2002 after an earthquake fault line was discovered under two of the campus’s buildings. The latest plan is to demolish the two buildings over the fault and to build a high school and a park on the site.

SOURCE: Education Week reporting and the Los Angeles Unified School District

Miami Northwestern High School, Miami, Fla.

Enrollment: 3,000
Scheduled opening: 1993
Actual opening: August 1997
Projected cost: $28 million
Final cost: $75 million

Miami Northwestern High School became a symbol of the Miami-Dade County district’s troubled school construction program. It was completed four years behind schedule and, because of extensive site-preparation costs and additions to the original plans, it was nearly $47 million over budget. Miami Northwestern was the most expensive high school built in Florida in the 1990s, and the district was still making repairs after it opened. A state audit found that the district school board had hired low-bidding companies that were unable to handle the scope of the job.

SOURCE: Auditor General, State of Florida

Noble High School, North Berwick, Maine

Enrollment: 1,500
Scheduled opening: August 2001
Actual opening: August 2001
Projected cost: $33.6 million
Final cost: $33.6 million

This 270,000-square-foot school has won numerous awards for its design and is seen as a model for today’s schools. Noble High serves as the centerpiece of three rural towns in Maine from which it draws students. Although it houses 1,500 students, architects created 15 schools-within-a-school to give the students and teachers the feeling of a much smaller facility. The high school also houses a child-care center, a restaurant, a performing arts center, and a health-care clinic—each of which is open to the community during and after school hours. The cost for construction came in nearly $1 million under budget, at $25.8 million.

SOURCE: Harriman Associates, Architects & Engineers, Auburn, Maine

Vol. 23, Issue 29, Page 16

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