The district argued that Eidos Architects underestimated construction costs for the $6 million project, which was completed this year.
A trial date was set for November, but the firm agreed to pay out $500,000 in a settlement approved by the school board last week, reported superintendent Scott Cooper. Eidos covered the district’s $200,000 attorney fees, and paid an additional $300,000.
“We got our money back that we had to take out of our capital reserve fund to complete the project,” Cooper said.
In Oct. 2014, the district filed a lawsuit alleging that Eidos Architects was contractually negligent when it estimated total construction costs for renovations and new buildings to be $5,799,686.
The district claimed damages of between $1.5 million and $1.7 million, and said the mistake created cost overruns, reduced potential funding from a public bond and a BEST grant, and forced the project to be downsized.
“Edios’ opinion of probable construction costs ... was inaccurate and false by a substantial margin,” according to the lawsuit, signed by the school district attorney Stephen G. Everall.
“We had to reduce the scope, with smaller remodel in the locker rooms and we lost out on two middle school science labs,” Cooper said.
The school district relied on Eidos’ $5.8 million construction-cost estimate when it applied for a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant for the project. In 2012, the school was awarded $2.62 million, a figure that could have been higher if the estimate was more accurate, Cooper said.
The grant included a five percent construction reserve fund of $290,000. Required matching funds came from a tax bond approved by voters in November 2012 for $3.4 million.
The district sought more in the settlement but agreed to a compromise, Cooper added, because “trial costs and an appeal would have costs us more.”
What the money will be use for is undecided at this point, said school board president Linnea Vass. Some ideas are to replenish the capital reserve fund, or use it to remodel rooms at the middle school into science labs.
“The lawsuit took a lot of effort and research, and we’re relieved its over,” Vass said. “Now we can continue to focus on our schools and the students, getting our mill levy passed, and pursuing the state legislature to do something about the negative factor that will cut our budget this year by $700,000.”