The fee does not apply to other costs, including purchasing the land or furnishing and equipping the new building, Vensel said.
Board member Eugene Gayman said he still has "reservations about the scope of the project," but supported hiring the firm.
Board member Renee Sharpe questioned why the board was being asked to approve a contract its members had yet to see. Vensel said he and Jan Sulcove, the attorney for the school district, had been working with the firm on the final details up to about 30 minutes before the meeting.
"This has been well-chewed over," Vensel said of the contract.
"It's nice to say we need a new high school, but there's a lot that goes with that," said board member Craig Musser.
"We need to have a general discussion of what our idea of a high school is," he said, noting a presentation to the Building and Grounds Committee last week was for one building.
The board has to begin giving the architects feedback now so the planning process can begin in earnest early next year, Musser said.
The existing high school has grades 10 through 12, but a new school will include ninth-grade students, as well. Board member Lori Leedy said two issues will be management of the student population and having "small learning communities."
Two buildings on one campus, each with two grades, could create problems in moving students from one building to another to take remedial or advanced courses during the day, Sharpe said. More than one building will increase the cost of the project, she said.
Assistant Superintendent Eric Michael said two buildings would increase the cost by about 20 percent because of duplication of facilities and services.
Board member Thomas Orndorf asked whether students should be separated according to grade level or by career pathways-based programs.
"We are looking at a conceptual design for melding those two areas together," Michael said.