Massive cost increases in sachsenheim: lessons for school building planning

Containers and excavators are evidence of action, but nobody in Sachsenheim can say when the major work on the school will actually begin. Photo: factum / Granville

The renovation of the Burgfeldschule is becoming more and more expensive, but the local politicians are taking it with composure.

Sachsenheim – It may be school holidays, but the Burgfeld School in Sachsenheim is not getting any rest. Not only that parents and students get upset because the interim classrooms are occupied by asylum seekers – and are therefore not available to the children. However, and that is another reason for the unrest, they don’t have to. Because the school renovation continues to be delayed. Which is why the school also keeps the city administration and city councils busy. Which is mainly due to the fact that it is becoming more and more expensive. 12.3 million euros: This is how much the renovation and conversion of the Burgfeld School into a community school cost – as of now.

This means that the costs have tripled since 2013 – originally they were around four million euros. "The number was only roughly estimated at the time," says Nicole Raichle, the city spokeswoman. In 2013, the requirements and the pedagogical concept were not yet exactly known. But it is now clear: Adapting the room concept is time-consuming. Community school, that means learning islands, specially equipped rooms. The school must also be designed to be handicapped accessible, and the refurbished fire protection also costs money.

Another, not to be neglected reason for the costs, which also has a big impact on the renovation: The construction industry is booming, many companies can literally choose the contracts. “A few years ago we couldn’t assess that either,” says Raichle. The city councils have released the necessary funds with a large majority – which is accompanied by a grant from the state of at least three million euros. The joy of the cost increases is of course limited among local politicians. Especially since other projects are now on hold, for example the renovation of the multi-purpose hall in Kleinsachsenheim and the fire station in Ochsenbach. The budget is currently good, but the city will have to go into debt in the next few years to cover the expenses.

Nonetheless, the municipal councils hold on to the school renovation project across the parliamentary groups. The mood: You want to and have to go through it now, the criticism is sometimes quieter, sometimes louder. "We still stand by the conversion of the Burgfeldschule into a community school," says Helga Niehues, for example, leader of the SPD parliamentary group in the local council. “As the SPD, we cannot see any deficits in the planning,” she adds. "We consider it important that all types of schools are offered in Sachsenheim, and we stand by this school," says Lars Weydt, the chairman of the CDU parliamentary group in the local council. “When it came down to the Burgfeldschule becoming a community school for the first time, we had the choice between a community school or the elimination of the secondary school.” It was too late to go back anyway. However, Weydt also calls for the process of increasing costs to be worked through.

Everyone agrees: From 2018/19, the community school should be fully operational for around 570 students. Containers and various construction site equipment on the school grounds are already evidence that something is happening. However, no one has yet been able to say when the major works will start.

Another project in town also increased costs. In the slipstream of the school millions, the additional costs of 400,000 euros for the renovation of the moated castle in the city center don’t sound like much, of course, but they are nevertheless painful for the not exactly wealthy community. In the castle, where the administration is based, there was damage to the old framework and significant PCB pollution, as Nicole Raichle says. PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyls. They are poisonous chlorine compounds. This project, which should be completed in May 2020, will have cost 8.4 million euros.