WINSLOW — Currently approved renovations to two Winslow schools will cost no more than $7.9 million, officials say.

Peter Pelletier, the project’s construction manager, announced the news at a Winslow School Board meeting Monday evening.

“The numbers came in so well that we’re $200,000 under budget and didn’t even have to touch the contingency,” Pelletier, of Ledgewood Construction, said.

Pelletier said he was able to incorporate all of the add-alternates — things that administrators deemed desirable but not absolutely essential. In the elementary school, for instance, they will be able to entirely replace a handful of classroom floors instead of patching up the original carpeting.

The school board unanimously voted to accept the $7.9 million figure in a vote that was, as Chairman Joel Selwood pointed out, quicker than the typical vote to adjourn a meeting.

School and town officials had been waiting with bated breath for a promise that the project would not exceed $8.1 million after a February estimate placed the plan $3.1 million over the taxpayer-approved value. A revised quote from April, with changes to the building plans, came in at about $1,700 below budget. It was only after nailing down subcontractors in the past three weeks that Pelletier was able to provide a more reliable figure — $7,892,065, known in contractual terms as the guaranteed maximum price.

If the project exceeds the guaranteed maximum price, Pelletier is responsible for paying the overrun. The school board can, however, vote to authorize an increase in the guaranteed maximum price down the line. If the project comes in under that figure, the school department keeps the funds.

Pelletier also told the board Monday that he thinks the school department will have enough funding to complete a full cafeteria renovation. This was one of the major components that was scrapped from February to April in order to save money. The current plan is to compromise with the purchase of one freezer. Designing and constructing a new cafeteria would cost about $256,000, Pelletier estimated. Between the $207,935 that is unaccounted for in the budget and $650,000 in bid and project contingency, he said he “feels very confident” that it is do-able.

The school board then voted unanimously to allow Stephen Blatt Architects to draw up the cafeteria design and enable Pelletier to put it out for pricing. After that, the board will vote again on whether to move forward with the actual construction. If the effort succeeds, the only major component from the original design concept that will not be built is the auditorium.

“This is a huge step forward from where we were,” Selwood said.

Pelletier attributed the savings reported from April to Monday night to a competitive bid process.

“When you’re at 50% complete construction documents (like we were in April), subcontractors have to make some assumptions about what they’re going to have to carry when it goes out to bid,” he said. “The bid process flushes that out. We’re in a competitive situation. Everyone is being as aggressive as they can be. We’re really pleased that the numbers came out the way that they did.”

Superintendent Peter Thiboutot said that the groundbreaking is on track for July 1, two months after initially planned. Construction will take place in two stages. The new additions will be built first, starting with the gymnasium and working clockwise around the high school building, leaving the cafeteria last. Then, workers will tackle renovations in the existing buildings with the goal of finishing up by the beginning of September 2020.

When all is said and done, Winslow Junior High School will go out of commission. The sixth graders will move to the Winslow Elementary School building, where they will have their own classroom wing, and the seventh and eighth graders will migrate into the high school just several yards away. They, too, will have their own designated space within the facility.

The high school will receive a 2,160-square-foot band room addition that will leave room for the town to — pending a public vote — eventually add on a full-size auditorium that was removed from the plans due to price concerns. The gymnasium will be expanded to accommodate the influx of students. Some parking will be added near the high school, though the number of spots that will be created has not been finalized.

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