Cost estimates for school projects rise
As designs for Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District’s Measure C projects near completion, planners involved with the projects are faced with higher construction and utility costs than originally estimated.
The new middle school project, largest of the district’s school modernization/upgrade projects, was estimated by architects to cost approximately $24 million. That cost estimate has increased by $9 million to approximately $33 million.
“It’s a sign of what’s going on in the state of California,” said TTUSD Facilities Director John Britto. “There’s a lot of work on the market right now. The (latest) estimate we got was almost $300 per square foot – $40 higher than what was estimated before the bond passed. On a 90,000-square-foot building, that’s a lot of money.”
Other unexpected cost increases were the utility hook-ups at the site for the new school, which is located on property between Highway 89 North and Interstate 80.
“It really caught us by surprise,” Britto said. “We called around to other mountain-area school districts and they were experiencing the same thing.”
The $35 million bond measure (Measure C) was passed by Truckee voters in March 1999 to target overcrowding in Truckee schools by building a new middle school, converting Sierra Mountain Middle School into a new elementary school and expanding the core facilities at Truckee Elementary and Tahoe-Truckee High School.
Bond money was also to be used for upgrades in Truckee schools in technology, maintenance, plumbing, heating, electrical and security systems.
District staff and board members discussed the Truckee bond measure as well as the Measure R bond for Lakeside schools in a workshop at last week’s special board meeting.
Staff, board members and project committee members expressed concern over the unexpected costs.
The possibility of cutting some of the projects was discussed, as was the possibility of pursuing other funding sources to make up for the increases.
“If you go out and solicit monies, you have to spend it directly on what you said you would,” said board president Suzanne Prouty, expressing concern about changing site plans.
Board member Cindy Gustafson said the increases were out of the district’s control.
“I think we have to keep moving forward with all of these projects and go out and get the money if we need to,” Gustafson said.
The construction plans for the new transportation facility, which will be located on 25 acres of land off of Joerger Drive, will be put on hold until the district is certain there is enough money to fulfill the school projects that were promised to the public, Britto said.
“Everyone acknowledges the transportation department has to get done,” he said.
District staff will proceed with plans for the middle school by constructing the core facility, the two-story classroom wing and enough portables to meet enrollment needs. Staff will also proceed with plans for construction of the Truckee Elementary multi-purpose room as well as the design for both the TTHS cafeteria/multi-use room and a new and relocated transportation facility.
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